Two months removed from competing at the 2017 Atlantic 10 Swimming and Diving Championships, the St. Bonaventure University men’s swim team is back in the pool and preparing for next season’s championships.
Seven seniors completed their careers as Bonnies at the Atlantic 10 Championships with a seventh place finish, after finishing second the past two years and winning two years in a row in 2013 and 2014.
However, several individual performances highlighted the meet, including three wins from senior Michael White in the 200-butterfly, the 200-individual medley and the 400-individual medley, and podium finishes from fellow seniors Preston Schilling and Matt Goettler.
The absence of the seniors at practice now means the leaders of the team from the past season are gone and need to be replaced, and so the junior class must step into the seniors’ shoes, said sophomore freestyler Alex Massa
Junior freestyler Jordan Powers said the team dynamic remains the same outside the pool, but there is an adjustment as new team members begin to take on leadership.
“The adjustment is bigger on the junior class because they are moving into the leadership role, but overall the dynamic is still similar because we still see our seniors frequently and hang out with them,” Powers said.
As the juniors become the seniors on the team, the sophomores and freshman step up as well, Massa said.
“The sophomore class is now the rising junior class. Gaining more seniority, our ideas and opinions on how the team dynamic should operate matters a lot more,” Massa said.
Freshman butterflyer Guido Balderrama said he didn’t see the juniors taking over as an adjustment period but simply as the seniors passing the torch onto their teammates.
“The new class of seniors mostly keeps tradition the same, although each senior brings their own unique attitudes and mindsets for how to carry out the next season,” Balderrama said. “They’ve added a few new additions, such as volunteering weekly at the SPCA and supplementing some biathlons with racing off the blocks to bring out that competitive factor we are striving for.”
Another adjustment the team must make is the transition into the offseason as the swimmers change up their training routines.
A few weeks before the championships, the team begins the taper process. During this, the team ends its lifting sessions and decreases the amount of time they practice in order to store up energy so they can swim their best at the Atlantic 10 Championships.
After the championships, the team got about a three-week break from swimming, said Massa. Now that they are swimming again, the team is in a modified training schedule in which they swim three times a week, have two team-lifting sessions on Tuesday and Thursdays and do either biathlons or racing off the blocks on Fridays, Balderrama said.
Powers said although the amount of time spent in the water has decreased, the team is still practicing daily.
“We try to do more things on land to build up our strength and coordination outside of the pool,’ Powers said.
Freshman individual-medley swimmer Joe Malafronte said while the schedule of training is more relaxed than when the team was in-season, each practice session is still high intensity.
“The decrease in practice hours has really opened up our free time, making academics easier while really being able to immerse more regularly into college life,” Malafronte said.
The final adjustment to be made happens after the team returns for the 2017-2018 school year, when the Bonnies welcome the new batch of freshman onto the team.
Powers is ready for the freshman to arrive and start making their mark on the team.
“The incoming freshman class is always exciting because they are wild cards,” Powers said. “Hopefully there will be some impacts from the class come championships.”
Massa said he expects the freshmen class to come in and want to learn from their teammates. The upperclassmen will tell them things and give advice, and he expects the freshmen to listen and learn from that. Balderrama said he wants the freshmen to be ready to work hard and fill in the gaps left by the senior class.
Malafronte’s expectations are whatever the expectations the new swimmers have for themselves, but that they must trust that the process will allow them to reach their goals.
“If they are willing to work hard and trust the program to push them, then all expectations and success will follow as a result,” Malafronte said.