Swimmers committed to club competitions

marcussen3By: Annebeth Ahrenholz

Winning. Stepping up to the next level in the sport. For women involved with club swimming, this is exactly the plan, and despite the chlorine burn or chlorine cough, these girls have been swimming together for years, and spending hour after hour, day after day in the pool doesn’t even phase them anymore. It is what they love, what they do and who they are.

The club swim team has a very strict schedule. They start their spring/summer season at the end of April and continue throughout the beginning of August.

After that season, they take about two weeks off and start back up at the beginning of October for their fall/winter season, and that takes them all the way to spring break.

These girls only have about one month off of the whole year. For girls who are involved on the high school swim team along with club, the high school season overlaps club starting in August. Girls who are participating on the high school team participate in that club season too, and that takes them to the beginning of November.

The state championships for high school swimming are in November, and then they take about three days off before getting right back in the pool to resume training for their club season.

These swimmers practice every day after school for two and a half hours, as well as every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 5:30 a.m.

They take no days off, with the exception of Sundays, which is commonly used to make up a missed workout previously in the week. Junior club swimmer Madison Hall explained that once swimmers reach a certain age, all of these practices become mandatory, including the morning ones.

Hall has been a part of the swim team since fourth grade. She said she has always had a love for swimming since she stepped foot in the pool for the first time, though as she has gotten older, finding the time to balance this love with all of her other priorities has grown challenging. “A lot of times I try to get as much of my homework done. It’s not as hard as it seems to manage time. Sometimes it sucks, but you get used to it. There are certain times where it is very hard, but once you’re at meets with your teammates, you realize how much you love it.”

Hall said she appreciates how swimming is a team sport, yet at the same time it is completely based individually. “I love the team; it’s a team sport, but it’s also just you and the clock. It’s the team and my coaches. We are growing up together.”

Hall plans to swim in college, and said many of her senior friends on the team have also been seeking out different colleges to possibly swim at next year. “It’s weird to think they will be practicing with different schools, and we won’t be on the same team next year.”

The swimmers are currently in the midst of training during their winter season. Their biggest competition for this season is Sectionals, which is one of the top meets. A week before Sectionals, they have State, which is also a big meet. Several swimmers on the team this year also have times qualifying for Junior Nationals in Florida over spring break and may be attending.

Senior Martee Granger has been was swimming for 11 years now — swimming with the same people since 3rd grade.

Granger realized how much she enjoyed the sport at the first meet of her freshman year. “Everyone swam super well. I realized how close everyone was and how fun it was to suffer through together as a team. I loved how encouraging everyone was.”

Swimming also takes up a lot of Granger’s time, making it hard to do some other things. “During season, it sucks. You have to pull some late nights and spend less time with other stuff like Netflix.”

Granger plans to go to Eastern Illinois University next year. She is still undecided if she will be swimming or not.

Senior swimmer Natalie Shimp started off her swim career by failing both of her swim lesson tests. Ironic, because since then she has been swimming since she was five years old, and has now been a part of a swim team for 12 years.

Shimp has moved several times, from Cedar Falls to Minnesota and back to Cedar Falls again, so she has experienced being a part of different swim teams. But for the most part, she has been on the same swim team with the same girls.

Shimp has always loved swimming, but said that sometimes it is very easy to hate it. “Swimming for 12 years, you can really get sick of it. At least right now being a senior and stuff, but it is always a good stress reliever.”

Having practice sometimes twice a day and meets several weekends, Shimp said she gets most of her homework done during her release periods or after school. “Sleep is also important to me,” Shimp said.

Next year Shimp will be swimming at Luther College, and she said she is really excited. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to swim because I have never really focused on school, so I thought that for college I should do that, but I knew I couldn’t stop swimming. I looked at a lot of smaller schools. I never wanted to go somewhere in Iowa. I have always wanted to get out of here, but when I found Luther, I knew this was the place I wanted to be.”

Shimp said she is sad to leave her teammates and friends who she has been so close with for so many years, but she is ready for the next step.  “It is time to move on to the next chapter. It’s going to be hard not to be around all these people I have been swimming with forever.”

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