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SMC Swimming: Belles enter home meet with low expectations, high hopes

Bill Brink | Friday, January 26, 2007

It’s not often a team heads into a competition expecting to lose, but when Saint Mary’s swims against Calvin tonight, the Belles will emphasize other aspects of the meet against the top-10 opponent.

“Calvin is a national challenger, and, well, Saint Mary’s isn’t quite there yet,” freshman Jen Lebiedz said.

But neither the coaches nor the swimmers are the least bit concerned about it. The Belles, who have two wins this season, shun the inevitability of the outcome and focus instead on their individual goals and achievements. When a meet victory is most likely out of reach, a season-best time or fine-tuning of technique become the new goal.

“Most coaches have a pretty good idea of how meets will play out before they happen,” Belles coach Ryan Dombkowski said.

Dombkowski strives toward small personal improvements that will enhance future success. He tries to refine portions of the race, such as the start or turn, and also pushes the swimmers toward new low times.

Lebiedz sees the meet as a chance to measure her abilities before the MIAA championships in two weeks.

“This meet is pretty important in regards to conference; it’s really our jumping point,” she said. “From here on out, it’s all about conference, so a great meet against Calvin would help to put everyone in the right mindset.”

That mindset can make or break a swimmer – a swim race is a delicate balance of emotions that must be kept in check. Dombkowski related the idea of peak anxiety versus performance to a bell curve – too little will make the swimmer lackadaisical, too much will cause over-worrying and either way performance suffers.

The Belles swim at 6 p.m. at Washington High School.