Behind the Blocks: NCAAs or bust tracks the training and development of former All Met swimmers working towards the goal of making the NCAA Division I championship meet in March during the 2013-2014 season. Each week the swimmers will post a personal blog about training with their respective school’s swim program and the daily challenges of life as a student-athlete at the D1 level. Check back every Tuesday for new blog posts, and join us throughout the season for a behind-the-scenes look at some of the country’s elite collegiate swimmers and swim programs.
Sarah Haase is a sophomore at Stanford University. She swam for the Flower Valley Frogs in the MCSL and continued her career at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School where she set the national independent high school record in the 100-yard breaststroke. She trained with Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club under Scott Vekeman and was a semifinalist at the 2012 Olympic Trials.
First, let me start by introducing myself for those of you who don’t know me. My name is Sarah and I am currently a sophomore at Stanford University. Before college I attended and swam for Good Counsel High School, as well as Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club. I’m primarily a breaststroker, but I also dabble in the IM events from time to time. Here at Stanford, I’ve been training mostly with the sprint group, but a few times a week I make special appearances in the mid-distance group.
After taking some much needed (mental and physical) time off from swimming in August, I am always eager to start the next season. Most other sports probably wouldn’t even call our few weeks off a “break,” but somewhere during that time I always find that rejuvenated love for swimming that has a tendency to teeter with my morning alarm clock.
When we return to campus in September for preseason training our whole team arrives with a fresh sense of purpose and motivation. We welcome our freshmen and as we build new relationships we start to establish a new team dynamic.
Every year, with the eldest class gone and a new one coming in, the team is different than it was before. With that in mind we make an effort to collectively come up with team goals for the upcoming season. We discuss everything from improving our underwaters to rebounding from disappointing swims to where we think our team finish could be at NCAAs in March. Even though March seems far away now, we know that how we train today will affect how we perform at the end of the season.
Once everyone has a clear understanding of our team goals it makes it easier to come up with individual goals. Our individual goals often reflect how we are going to help the team reach these end-of-season goals. There are the obvious, time specific goals, in which you hope to contribute the most points as possible.
But the goals that can be most important are often overlooked. They are goals concerning how you are going to help your teammates reach their goals. Mine, in particular, is making sure everyone is happy, relaxed and having fun at meets. This especially includes the more high-pressured meets like Pac-12s and NCAAs, because I know from years of experience that you swim the fastest when you are happy. If I can make someone crack a smile with a stupid joke, then I know I’m helping out the team.
With two months of solid training under our belts, we are getting ready to leave Friday morning to compete in our third meet of the season. We are heading North to dual Oregon State in our first away meet. Its always fun traveling with the team and I’m excited to switch into racing gear.
We’ll be training hard this week and, with midterms surfacing, I know there will be a decent bit of fatigue that rolls over into the meet. Our head coach, Greg Meehan, always emphasizes attention to details at these early meets, even at the expense of times. He tells us that now is the time to stay disciplined off our walls and in our breathing patterns so that when the time comes for a rested meet, our details are second nature.