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ND Women’s Swimming and Diving: Team chemistry, confidence keep swimmers balanced

Megan Golden | Thursday, February 3, 2011

While the 20-plus hours spent in the pool each week have enhanced individuals’ performances, it is song, food and laughter that highlight team bonding and strengthen this Irish team’s chemistry and confidence in one another.

During practice the team is either listening to music on the underwater radios in Rolfs Aquatic Center or singing to their iPods, which play on speakers above the water.

“Our team is usually singing and dancing to all the songs,” senior swimmer Samantha Maxwell said. “This year our team constantly sings ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ by Cher and ‘It’s All Coming Back to Me Now’ by Celine Deion. We also occasionally sing ‘Chicken Fried’ by Zac Brown Band and ‘Voices’ by Chris Young.”

Christmas break provided the team with an opportunity for some karaoke.

“Over training trip in Hawaii our team decided to go out to a restaurant and sing karaoke,” Maxwell said. “After some pretty hilarious performances our team got a standing ovation from the restaurant.”

Senior swimming captain Katie Casey pointed out the best karaoke performance.

“We were obviously crowd favorites,” she said. “[Senior] Lauren Parisi and [senior] Delia Cronin’s version of ‘Proud Mary’ was the highlight.”

Senior diving captain Heidi Grossman added that as long as there is food at a team gathering, the team members will be present.

“We have team dinners most nights after practice, but we will also occasionally all get together at one of the seniors’ off-campus houses to order pizza and watch a movie,” Grossman said. “Last semester, we frequently got together to have football game watches. Everyone would bring something to one of the seniors’ houses and we would all hang out and watch the game.”

When the team is not eating or singing, they can usually be found laughing or joking with one another.

“This year we have had lots of funny experiences as a team. Usually bus rides get pretty funny, especially with Delia Cronin serenading the team from the back row,” Maxwell said. “[But] most of the time it is just girls getting caught in the moment, joking around.”

Grossman said whenever diving coach Caiming Xie attempts to give instruction, it quickly becomes a highlight of practice.

“Our coach is Chinese and sometimes hard to understand, so some of the funniest stories of are times when there were funny miscommunications between him and our team,” she said. “Sometimes we just have no idea what he is talking about.”

Even in the pool, the team is sure to have a good time.

“It is also funny when there are some good smacks during practice,” Grossman said. “Especially when you are learning a new dive, it is likely that you will get lost in the dive and end up landing on your stomach which is of course painful but also funny.”

Casey said that having such a strong chemistry ultimately increases the team’s confidence in one another.

“We love to joke around, but we are also very motivating when we need to be serious in a practice or meet,” she said. “We gained a lot of momentum on training trip by getting behind each other and knowing everyone’s times in practice which really helped build chemistry in the pool. With this strong team chemistry our team gained confidence. When we are closer as a team, we are more confident.”

Grossman said confidence in team members is a huge advantage heading into Big East championships.

“In meets it is key that you do not let nerves hold you back from going for a dive. You have to be confident that because you have practiced a dive hundreds of times, you can nail it when it counts,” Grossman said. “Though a very individual sport, it is still important that teammates do well because all the points are added together for the team score. Going into the Big East championships, it is important to have confidence in teammates because every point counts. It is going to be a close meet, but we can win if everyone performs their best.”