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July 6, 2006 at 5:07 pm #11861Old ManMember
Question: In my limited exposure to MIAA swimming, it seems that very few swimmers perform as well at NCAA’s than at the league meet. (i.e. actually swim faster in March than February)
Does this reflect on the focus of teams towards the league meet or the ability of coaches to taper swimmers for both events.
Is this just recent history or typical of the past as well?
Are there exceptions to this recent performance? Are there some coaches or programs that are better than others at improving in March?
July 6, 2006 at 5:25 pm #29193Happy MadisonMember
I haven’t looked at the numbers so I have no supporting evidence for my following statement. So if one of you guys want to lay into me for what I think on this topic, so be it, but you’re getting my opinion anyway.
In recent years, the MIAA has been weaker and each team has had fewer swimmers qualify for the big meet in March. Thus the focus was always on MIAA’s for the vast majority of the swimmers and for the teams as well. Because teams could only qualify one or two people individually they would need those people rested at the league meet to qualify any relays. Putting your heart and soul into a relay to make it to the meet while rested and performing at the meet you have been focusing on makes it very difficult to turn around 6 weeks later and swim faster than your PR’s from the month earlier when the team expectations weren’t that high.
A few years ago when Hope was finishing top 5 in the country their focus was on the National Meet. Kalamazoo was top 10 and their focus was no different. You would see the people that rested in February bounce back quite a bit easier because there was more at stake (at least that is my perception) because the Josh Boss’, Tim DeHaan, Nick Duda types were there to pick everyone else up. Hope’s 400 Free Relay comes to mind. Slagh and DeHaan were there, Vroegindewey and Hamstra were not but you still got great performances out of Vro and CH, part of that had to deal with expectations. You knew they would be at their best in March. Honestly, a lot of it has to do with numbers and quality of team. If you look back to the mid 90s, I am confident you will discover that the Hope teams were peaking in March. When the team is in place and the talent is there and you’re expected to do well, it’s a lot easier to get the rest of the team on the bus than when you are doing all you can to qualify and thrilled just to have a relay there. The MIAA in recent years has been the latter of the two.
The other thing to keep in mind is that it is getting more and more difficult to qualify.
July 6, 2006 at 7:27 pm #29194lirpaMember
I agree with the last statement. While most of what I know about the MIAA is simply from these message boards, I’ll comment on what I’ve seen in other conferences.
Division III cut times have become very difficult lately, with qualifiers coming from all over the map. I remember most of the coaches at Women’s NCAAs this year asking “Where the heck is Gordon?” This is an example of a random qualifier.
Most NCAA qualifiers are not good enough to make it without focusing on their conference meet to get there. This is why it is not unusual to make consols with a time that did not even match the invited time.
I think the previous poster hit the nail on the head with the statement about “rising to the occasion.” I think, in most cases, conference meets are more emotionally intense. They are usually pretty centrally located among the participating schools, often coed, and feature larger contingents from participating schools.
This results in much louder cheering, races against true rivals, a squad size of about 40 (men and women) and all of the parents and friends that can make the trip to watch the meet. This all contributes to help swimmers rise to the occasion, and is much less likely to leave a swimmer flat.
Traveling to NCAAs can sometimes be viewed as a reward after playing the waiting game through the selection process. The average squad size is much smaller, and the supporters attending are much fewer.
This may not apply to the top five schools, but I don’t have a lot of experience with those programs, so I couldn’t say.
I want to make it clear I don’t think NCAAs are less important or less competitive than conference meets, as that is not the case. I just think that it is often the atmosphere and team element that can result in slightly slower swimming
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