Swimmers train in Ireland, compete in Vegas over break

by Schuyler Evans | 1/8/08 4:01am

The Dartmouth men's and women's swim teams spent their winter break training, globe-trotting and competing as they traveled to Las Vegas, Nev., and across the pond to Dublin, Ireland.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas Invitational gave the Big Green a chance to test themselves against a group of athletes that are seldom available for competition on the East Coast.

"It was good to compete against West Coast teams," women's co-captain Liz Mancuso '08 said. "The big difference at this particular meet was that the Ivies don't give athletic scholarships, unlike the schools we faced at UNLV."

The competition in Las Vegas afforded the opportunity for every swimmer to compete in two individual events on each day of the three-day trip, from Saturday, Dec. 15 to Monday, Dec. 17.

In addition, each swimmer was able to compete in at least one of five relay events.

"The trip to Vegas was definitely worth it," Mancuso said. "It was a good benchmark place for the team; we got to swim a lot more events than at normal dual meets."

The Dartmouth women finished seventh out of 13 teams competing in the UNLV Invitational, endingwith a team score of 197. First place went to UNLV, which racked up a score of 849 points.

The Big Green men, with a score of 147 points, finished in the middle of their field in eighth place out of the 17 teams competing. The squad was greatly outmatched, however, by the University of California, Santa Barbara, the winner of the competition that walked away with 740 points.

Dartmouth swimming ended its stint in Las Vegas with a final day of training before the teams parted paths for over a week to share the holidays with family and friends. The team then regrouped on Thursday, Dec. 27 to take its training trip to Ireland.

The trip to Ireland was organized around four to five hours a day of intense workouts.

"We trained in the National Aquatic Center; it was a very nice pool," women's co-captain Zoe Bisk '08 said. "It was 50 meters long, and the divers had a separate tank to train in. Lane space was sometimes limited but that did not stop us. It was shorter than most training trips, but I feel that we got in a lot of good training for how short it was."

The teams devoted themselves for a solid week of workouts that tested their limits and broke down their muscles leaving them sore and tired. All efforts centered around the team's hopes of gaining much-needed speed before the bulk of the team's winter season.

"It is that time in the season when you need to put a lot of work in to get a lot of results," men's captain Joe Braunreuther '08 said. "It's the only week we get to focus on swimming and not worry about school."

In both Las Vegas and Ireland, the teams were able to site-see and work on team bonding.

Mancuso was particularly impressed by Nevada's Hoover Dam, and Braunreuther enjoyed the view from the top of the Guinness Factory in Dublin.

"At the top of the Guinness Factory there is the gravity room," he said. "It is all glass and you could see all of Dublin."

But when asked if he sampled the factory's product, Braunreuther responded, "we had to drink Cokes; it is against team policy to drink alcohol."

The swim team travels internationally once every four years. On the first day of the trip, the team walked two miles from the hotel to the pool and back, but most of the team quickly decided to utilize the city's bus system after the trek.

The Big Green swim teams returned to U.S. soil on Saturday, Jan. 5, just two days before the start of the Winter term.

All eyes are now turned towards the end of the season , which willculminate with the Ivy League Championships and the EISL Championships.

"I think they are in pretty good shape," head coach Jim Wilson said. "We can always do better. I am very happy with where things are now. If we did things perfectly we wouldn't have anything to improve upon."

The Big Green women will be on the road this Wednesday, Jan. 9 as they will take on the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vt. The men's team will return to competition this Saturday, Jan. 12, at home against Boston University at 1:00 p.m.