In order to participate on a competitive level, any sports team needs funding for things like transportation and lodging to accommodate events farther away than a day trip. In order to meet their financial needs, both the Men’s and Women’s Swimming teams returned to campus a week early from winter break to both practice for their upcoming season and hold a lap-a-thon fundraiser on Wed. Jan. 13.
The team had the group fundraising goal of $4,000, and individual goals of $200. Donors could pledge flat amounts to the athletes, or donate based upon the number of laps that they swam up to 10,000 yards—that is 5.8 miles in the pool. At the event, each athlete had three hours to swim as many laps as physically possible, with the only rule being that they could not use assistive gear like fins to help them.
What made the lap-a-thon a challenge for the athletes was its timing—the event took place during the middle of their winter training week. By the time it was time to hop in the pool for the fundraiser, the women had already been pushed to their physical limits after days of strenuous training for their upcoming season.
“I would do things during my sets so that I wouldn’t get bored or too exhausted,” swimmer Sky Mihaylo ('17) explained of her efforts during the lap-a-thon. “Many of us on the team have trouble with our shoulders from being overused or using poor technique. I was one of those unfortunate souls, so it was nice to have an opportunity to cater to my physical pain in this workout by incorporating a lot more backstroke than I normally would.” The lap-a-thon was less strenuous than the athletes’ regular practices in that each participant could use less strenuous strokes and go at their own paces to achieve goal yardage in the pool. Most of the athletes completed their sets using freestyle swim and breaststroke kick techniques.
On average, each swimmer swam around 6,000 yards, and collectively the athletes swam 72 miles. Together, they were able to surpass their $4,000 goal. The teams will use their raised funds to pay for a trip to Rochester, NY later on in the semester, where they will compete in the four-day Upper New York State Collegiate Swimming Association (UNYSCSA) Swim Meet. “It gives us the opportunity to compete in a large meet setting, as well as to compete against new teams that we normally wouldn’t swim against,” added Colette Harley (‘17). Competing against a wider variety of teams and athletes will help the team to develop their own skills in a more competitive setting than they normally experience.
This lap-a-thon and swimming season follows a massively successful last season, where both Men’s and Women’s Swimming broke through a number of personal and team records. They held their own at the Skyline Conference and the women even won the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (HVIAC) competition for the fifth year in a row.
As their current season draws to a close, coach Eric Mitchell is pretty positive that the teams will be able to continue their strong performances. “This weekend we have the Skyline Championships hosted by Maritime College in the Bronx,” he said. “The women are ranked second in the conference and the men are fourth. We look to improve upon those rankings.” You can keep up with the swimmers at GoGryphons.com, and by cheering them on whenever they swim at the Campbell Sports Center.
By Wade Wallerstein ’17