MIAC Preview – Carleton

Carleton enters the 2011 meet with one of their best teams since 2008. Strong recruiting the last two seasons has built up the top level relay speed and added depth for Carleton to compete at MIACs.  This year Carleton will most likely be in the mix to compete with GAC and SJU for the 3-4-5 spots.

I had a chance to email head coach Andy Clark about items such as recruiting at an academically stringent school, their flooded pool this season, and his Vulcan tendencies…

Casey: You’ve won 3 titles with the women’s team, and got up to 3rd in 2008 on the men’s side. What are your goals this year for the Knight’s men? Do they differ at all year to year?

Carleton Alum Dave Cameron

Andy: Our primary goal for the Carleton Men’s Team has always been to focus on preparing the team to be at their best for the most important meet of the year – The MIAC Championships.  Every year the team gears up to be a competitive force and this year is no different. The coaching staff’s responsibility is to put them in a position where they can be at their best.  We have a talented and determined men’s team and I am excited to see how far they can push each other at this year’s Championships.

Casey: Many schools run into trouble sometimes recruiting “student” athletes, with Carleton’s academic requirements, has that ever been an issue for you as a coach?

Andy: Carleton’s academic reputation attracts a national and international applicant pool each year. The diversity that exists on our campus is a direct reflection of this fact. Finding talented student-athletes who have the ability to be viable candidates for admission to Carleton can be a challenge. Student-athletes who apply to Carleton are not given preferential treatment in the admissions process due to their athletic skills. However, having said that, our swim program has been fortunate to not only identify and successfully recruit talented swimmers and divers, but likewise amazing students with varied interests, backgrounds and experience that make our team unique.

Casey: Mamoru Kanazawa has been a solid swimmer out of Japan. How did he end up at Carleton? Did you recruit him at all prior to him enrolling at the school?

Andy: Mamoru is an extremely talented swimmer. Unknown to the coaching staff, Mamoru applied, was admitted, and we got lucky.

Casey: Who are some names, and swims to look out for at conference this year?

Andy: Everyone on our conference roster falls into this category.  All of them have the ability to have great swims and dives.  I think there will be many surprises.

Casey: With the Carleton campus flooded during the early part of the season, how did this affect training? Did you have to switch pools for part of the season?

Andy: The West Gym where Thorpe Pool is located, was closed for 2 1/2 months this fall.  We are fortunate that we have two pools on campus so we moved practice across campus to the pool in the Cowling Recreation Center .  Cameron Pool is a five lane pool (similar to UST’s old pool) with no starting blocks.  We hosted our annual Alumni Meet and the Ted Mullin “Hour of Power” at the pool but did have to change the location for a couple of meets we had in November to the Northfield Middle School and to Mankato.  What could have been a negative turned out to be quite the opposite. The swimmers enjoyed a change of venue and the practice schedule was ideal for the fall. The swimmers trained extremely well and never once complained. We were just glad that we could train on campus. We were able to return to Thorpe pool in December for the start of Winter Break Training.

Casey: Carleton’s schedule is much different than other MIAC schools with more time off during the heart of the season. How does your team work through this? Are swimmers asked to swim on their own during their time off? Do swimmers stick around campus?

Andy: Our academic calender is unique (three 10-week terms each year) in the MIAC but it has worked out great for us.  Fall term final exams end before Thanksgiving so students have the opportunity to either stay on campus or go home for the holiday weekend.  After Thanksgiving, the entire team is back on campus training for about a week before heading off on a winter training and competition trip.  Traveling in mid-December when most teams are still in school gives our team advantages such as full use of the facilities and pool availability.  It is easy to find other teams to compete against as well. At the completion of the training trip, team members head home for about 2 weeks and are expected to continue training.

Casey: Your team had pretty big drops at the Minnesota Challenge. Did you expect that? Did swimmers prepare differently for that meet?

Andy: We expect our team to swim fast at every meet and the entire team swam great at the MN Challenge.  We use the MN Challenge as a taper meet for the students on the team who are not competing at MIAC’s and those students swam incredibly well. I think that the rest of the team fed off of their efforts and results.

Casey: Assistant Coach Brooke Larsen was my prom date in high school, and won coach of the year honors during your sabbatical year. First, why is none of this information in her team webssite bio? And second, how does she fit into Carleton’s team success?

Andy: Hmm, I’ll have to ask Brooke about her prom experience. Brooke’s coaching achievements should be noted in her bio and I appreciate the feedback. At Carleton, I have been fortunate to have a strong and committed coaching staff that has stayed consistent over many years.  Brooke is a seasoned and skilled coach who understands and relates extremely well with all of the students on the team.  Her insights on training and her ability to motivate the students has been invaluable.  The success of our team, though, is shared equally among all the coaches on our program including Craig Johnson and Gabe Kortuem who are incredible coaches too. However, the effort and time Brooke has dedicated to the team has been extremely positive and she has made our program better.

Casey: Have you ever partied at the Sci-Fi house?

Andy: Can’t say I have but I do like Spock and his Vulcan salute,  “Tich tor ang tesmur” (Live long and prosper) so I am sure I would fit in.

Thanks to Andy for answering my questions. And thanks to assistant to the head coach Brooke Larsen for still talking to me when I see her at class reunions and “Defeat of Jesse James Days.”

Casey McGovern is a 1999 graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and a regular contributor to the D3Swimming.com Forums. We appreciate his efforts both in the past and with this current line of articles previewing the MIAC Championships.

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