Competing on Norwich University’s swimming and diving team takes extreme amounts of dedication, time and hard work, but the team’s members, coaches – and even the member’s parents – all agree it is well worth the effort.
“We meet an average of six to eight times a week,” said Victoria Sabel, a senior architecture major from Plainville, Conn., “but the yardage really counts, so you go to five afternoon practices, a Saturday practice and we have morning practices twice a week.”
Sabel, who has been swimming since age 6, continues to say that the amount of time in the pool can vary depending on what event you compete in, whether it be freestyle, a different stroke, or distance, which is what Sabel competes in.
Although the men and women’s teams train and attend meets together, they are scored separately, and within each team is a captain or two, and swimmers that compete in different events within the meet.
According to Norwichathletics.com, the women’s team didn’t win any of their meets as far as scores were concerned, however they did exceptionally well considering that there were only five girls on the roster, and even then some were limited by injuries.
The men on the other hand ,with an extremely large roster this year, have won five out of their nine meets and came in first at the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Invitational meet back in December.
“Despite the fact that we didn’t have a lot of women this year, it was bigger and better on the women’s side then when I came in,” said Laura Dunn, the head swimming and diving coach from Northfield. “On the men’s side we’ve doubled our numbers and I think we have a lot more quality and more depth.”
The women’s team this season not only had five women on the roster, but all are seniors, meaning that the entire team will be graduating in the spring.
“One of the issues that we have had with the swim team is we have not been able to build the numbers on the women’s side and that’s a very big concern,” said Tony Mariano, the Athletic Director at Norwich University. “The fact that what we have remaining is all seniors is problematic, which means that we have to go out and bring in a large group of freshman in order to build that program back up. “
Dunn stated that she is recruiting and hoping to gain back some girls who took the year off. Although there is a chance there will be no upperclassman on the team, that leadership can come from anywhere not necessarily from upperclassmen women.
“Leadership can come from any class,” said Dunn,” I am constantly calling on freshman, sophomores, juniors to lead in different ways, they’ll be getting different leadership depending on what events they swim, depending on what their major is, depending on if they are corps or civilian; there are just so many variables, I don’t think it will be something that we can’t work through.”
First year assistant coach Trevor Trimpe from Indiana has been working hard on recruiting for next year and a big thing he is looking and hoping for from the incoming recruits is commitment to the team.
“If we can get them to commit, to stay on the team, that was one of the big problems last year,” said Trimpe, “we had girls in the fall and none of them stuck around for some reason, so next year if we get girls in, if we can get them to stay around and participate, that would be great.”
Giovanna Stein, a 21 year-old senior bio-chemistry major from Brazil, who has been one of the team captains for the past two years, is also hopeful for new recruits next year to keep the women’s team going.
“I’m happy that I made it all four years,” said Stein, “and hopefully we will have a few new freshman in there next year to start a new team.”
Stein feels bittersweet about leaving, and states that swimming was a part of her decision to come to Norwich.
Stephen Resto is a 22 year-old computer security and information assistance major from Montgomery, N.Y., who dove for the team. Resto graduated this past December, and admits he didn’t factor in diving when deciding on Norwich. However, he goes on to say even though it wasn’t a factor in his decision, it became a big part of his time at Norwich and helped him when he was not in the pool as well.
“In my case, diving challenges you every time you step on the board.” said Resto,” Getting over fear of getting hurt is always tough because the body will fight you to not do certain things and diving helps you control your body’ss response to fear and anxiousness.”
Sabel also says that her four years participating on the team has helped her in numerous ways as well, when it comes to time management, learning commitment and dedication, and getting comfortable in different social settings.
Henrietta Sabel from Plainsville, Conn, is Victoria’s mother and has been to several meets over Victoria’s collegiate career. She has cherished watching her daughter grow from a six year-old afraid to go near a pool, to the talented young woman she is today.
“Every minute of watching Vikki swim has made me proud,” said Henrietta. “Vikki has had a shoulder injury as a direct result of swimming since 2009, and to watch her overcome that obstacle with the sheer dedication and love of sport and team literally makes me tear up with pride.”
Although the women’s season has come to an end for this year, the majority of the men’s team will be participating in the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association Championships. The meet will be held in February in Kingston, R.I., at the University of Rhode Island.
“I am a little nervous as a freshman going into New England’s,” said John Myers a physics major from Scranton Penn. “I don’t know what it’s going to be like, but I am also excited that I get to get out there and start swimming against all these other teams.”