FEATURE: Women Determined To Get Back On A-10 Podium
Feb. 15, 2013
AMHERST, Mass. - By: Kaitlin Boyer, Daily Collegian
Massachusetts women's swimming and diving coach Bob Newcomb has one primary thought in mind when it comes to the Atlantic 10 Championship.
"Swim fast," he said. "The bottom line is this group has (swam) fast all year, and now it's time to take that step up and take it up to the next level and be able to go even faster."
The Minutewomen have attempted to remain focused on the task at hand by keeping a countdown to the championship up on the wall near the pool in Boyden Gymnasium. Newcomb said the countdown has been going for about a month.
After wrapping up last season with a fourth-place finish, UMass is eager to get itself back on the podium. While the Minutewomen were picked to finish third in the 2012-13 A-10 Women's Swimming and Diving Preseason Poll and were ranked 17th by Collegeswimming.com's Mid-Major Division 1 Poll, Newcomb is not concerned about any expectations..
"If you don't go in and take care of it there, all the polls and all the stuff we did pre-season really doesn't matter," he said. "It's just a matter of getting in and just showing them what we can in the next two weeks.
"It's going to be a very, very good meet and you can make all the predictions you want, but you got to do it."
UMass broke a number of the program's swimming and diving records this season. Most notably, the women set four records in one day at the Terrier Invitational back in November. Jocelyn Yuen broke the school record in the 200-yard individual medley, touching the wall with a time of 2:05.25. Records were also broken in the 50-yard freestyle by Zoe Judd and in the 400-yard medley race by Yuen, Judd, Rebecca Quirie and Katie Arnott. Molly Smyth broke her own school record twice in one day in the 500-yard freestyle, clocking in at in 4:55.23 in the morning and then 4:54.47 in the afternoon.
"Each swimmer has a different taper getting down to the final countdown and depending on what kind of swimmer you are, if you are a sprinter or distance swimmer, it's important to do everything you can right now," she said. "It's just about team energy right now and being positive."
Anna Cavanaugh, who holds the top time in school history in the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay, is confident in the Minutwomen's approach. She said that the team has been making sure they are resting well and doing everything the coaches have instructed them to do.
"I think we are all just trying to make sure we do everything right from now on," said said. "From today until the day we leave, until the day we step onto the blocks.
"We are just trying to make every practice and do everything right so we know for sure that when we get to A-10s there's nothing more we could have done."
The biggest obstacles for UMass going into the meet will be Richmond and Fordham. Both squads finished ahead of the Minutewomen last year, with Richmond coming in first and Fordham second. Newcomb said his team is in a tight race for third with Rhode Island, La Salle, Duquesne, Xavier and George Washington - a team he described as probably the most improved in the conference.
Though UMass most recently suffered a 176-120 loss to Fordham on Feb. 2, the idea of a potential rematch has not phased the team.
"It has no bearing on what we are going to do in two weeks" Newcomb said. "It's time to get rid of the soreness and to just refine some of the things we have been doing and just really get them all set to go to Ohio and swim at their maximum ability and show everybody what this team is really about."
Kaitlin Boyer can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @Kaitlin_Boyer.