The Lehigh Mountain Hawks swim team completes warm up laps during practice on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, at Taylor Gym. The team is spending their spring break training in Florida. (Gracie Chavers/B&W Staff)

Swimming splashes into championship

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The Lehigh men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will begin their quest for the Patriot League Championship on Feb. 20.

In preparation for the upcoming meets, both teams traveled to Florida during winter break for an annual training trip. The purpose of the trip is to prepare the team for the championship meets, and because it is during a break, their sole focus is on swimming.

The teams train together at a YMCA in Naples, Florida with an outdoor pool and stay at the Inn at Pelican Bay in Naples, Florida. Sophomore Olivia Giampietro looks forward to the trip, as it is a big turning point for the team to secure their confidence going into the championships.

“The pool is outside so it makes swimming a lot more fun,” Giampietro said.

Senior Kathryn Bergin said she looks forward to the trip every year as well, and is happy the team is able to go.

“We’ve been lucky to have the support of alumni who help make this training trip possible,” Bergin said. 

The training on the trip is intensive and the team practices in the morning and at night. They focus on strength, speed and back-end racing.

This year, the entire swimming team and all four coaches were able to go to Naples, Florida. Divers planned a separate trip to Orlando with their diving coach Brian Bolstad. 

Coach Rob Herb looks forward to the training trip every year and has high hopes for the upcoming championships.

“While in winter training trip, it is swim-eat-beach-swim-eat-sleep,” Herb said. “It is a concentrated training event for us. We actually do a lot of team bonding as well.”

While the teams are busy with their training, they make time for team bonding, an important part of the trip. The team splits into four separate groups and participates in events for points, including a gingerbread making competition, trivia and relays.

“It is important (that) we do these bonding activities because the boys and girls teams don’t normally swim together,” Giampietro said.

Both the men’s and women’s teams have had a strong season, so the team is confident going into the Patriot League Championships. Herb and Bergin think the team is well prepared. 

“Being a senior I can honestly say I think this is the strongest team we’ve ever had, both on men’s and women’s side,” Bergin said.

Herb said the sophomore class has been particularly impressive. He also said freshmen Annie Norris,  Joe Rogers, Liz Olszewski and Connor Sept have proven they will be contenders as well.

Both men’s and women’s teams just swam at Bucknell and the boys pulled through in the last relay.

Giampietro said it was important for Lehigh to swim Bucknell right before the upcoming championships because that is where they are being held.

“It is good to get a feel for the wall, know the depth of the pool, and just have an idea of what everything looks like,” said Giampietro.

The championship meet will be held Feb. 20-23 at Bucknell in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

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