By mid-January, with the season nearing its end, months of intense training have taken their toll on the Chicago swimmers' tired bodies.
Despite this, both the men's and women's swim teams managed to finish first at last weekend's Maroon Invite at the Myers-McLoraine pool. The men finished with 650 points over second-place Illinois Institute of Technology, while the women edged out the College of DuPage 857-818.
"We'd been training hard and I wasn't sure exactly how tired we were," said Sheila O'Connor, the women's coach. "I think we were still very tired but we swam really well."
She was especially pleased with first-place swims from third-years Debora Ayoub in the 200-yard butterfly and Erin Lyons in the 1,650-yard freestyle with times of 2:23.48 and 18:35.27, respectively. According to O'Connor, Lyons had "her best non-tapered non-shaved meet of her college career."
"It was definitely a good meet for me, especially since this time of the year it's usually pretty tough," Lyons, the women's team co-captain, said. "I felt really good, and usually I don't feel this good untapered and unshaved."
O'Connor said that each of her swimmers had at least one good race. "The biggest thing was that people are starting to make the changes in their strokes and techniques and that's huge for UAAs," she said.
On the men's side, third-year Northe Saunders blew away the competition in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles with times of 21.94 seconds and 47.51 seconds. Second-year Dan Timke also won the 100- and 200-yard butterfly races in 55.95 and 2:05.07 respectively.
After several months of tough training, including practicing twice a day, the teams have begun to decrease yardage and workout intensity to prepare for the UAA conference championship February 11 through 14 in Atlanta. The teams have two more home meets against Wheaton and Carthage Colleges and then St. Mary's College before the championship.
"There are no unimportant races at this point in the season," O'Connor said. "Every race involves fine tuning for the conference meet. We want to get everything fine tuned so that when we get to UAAs everything's old hat."
The new pool has contributed a great deal to the team's success this season. They've been able to practice in one of the best Division III facilities, and home meets have allowed them to swim in front of friends and supporters for the first time.
"We're thinking about how we're going to make this pool look like a U of C pool and not a community pool," O'Connor said. "We'll get our UAA banners up with some Chicago Cs and crests."
O'Connor said they'd also like to put up a record board by next February, when the U of C will host the UAA conference championship.
"To think we could go from Ida [Noyes Hall] to hosting UAAs. It's so exciting," Lyons said.