July 14, 2005
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — –
There’s no better place to spend your summer than poolside, especially if you are a member of the FSU swimming and diving team. Although all the Seminoles are working to improve themselves during the summer, there are a few that choose to stay in Tallahassee during the summer and train for the upcoming season. Under the direction of assistant coach James Barber, Club Seminole has been a vital part of FSU’s potential success for the 2005-06 campaign.
Overall improvement, a leg up on training and, yes, academics all seemed to be the main ingredients in why student-athletes choose to stay in Tallahassee over the summer instead of going home to see family and friends. The NCAA recently established an academic reform system to promote student-athletes to complete their degrees in five years. Barber said he and the coaching staff encourage student-athletes to take classes over the summer to lighten their class load during the season when training is at its peak.
“This is my first summer here,” junior Alex Kennon (Winter Haven, Fla.) said. “I stayed because of school, getting classes out of the way because I wasn’t going to be able to do it during the school year because of our practice schedule.”
Training, for obvious reasons, is a prominent reason why the Seminoles stay in Tallahassee. Incoming freshman Christie Raleigh (Boca Raton, Fla.) already understands that training in the summer provides an excellent opportunity to get ahead of the pack.
“I’m working with James on my strokes a lot,” Raleigh said. “Just getting them down pat so that this year I can work on my training rather than starting from day one having to fix my strokes and then concentrating on the training aspect. I’m hopefully going to go right into training hard this year and not have to worry about my strokes.”
By staying in Tallahassee, student-athletes miss out on summer fun and an opportunity to catch up with friends and family. Senior Jared Heine (Honolulu, Hawai’i) made a huge commitment when he decided to stay for the summer and take four classes. He can’t just decide to go home for the weekend considering a ten hour flight lies between him and his family.
The student-athletes that stay through the summer train and compete with a non-FSU affiliated club team known as Club Seminole. Club Seminole is a USA Swimming registered competitive swim team, which is registered through Florida Swimming. The athletes pay Club Seminole to be a member of the team as well as their own travel, meals, meet registrations fees and USA Swimming fees. Club Seminole carries its own insurance also. Some of the meets Club Seminole competes in are local while others are in North Carolina, south Florida and California.
In the summer there is a lot more flexibility because Club Seminole is not associated with the NCAA it does not have to follow the governing body’s regulations, particularly the limit of 20 hours of practice time. Summer training also provides more one-on-one time for student-athletes because there are fewer athletes around the training can be tailored towards each student-athlete’s specific needs.
“You don’t see anyone competing internationally that is only training 20 hours per week,” Barber said. “The college athletes that are competing internationally are getting that much time in on volunteer workouts alone.”
No one may enjoy the flexibility of the summer more than senior Carrie Ellis (Valrico, Fla.). An All-ACC selection last year Ellis took two years off after competing for Virginia as a freshman before coming back with the Seminoles last season. She is focused on the NCAA Championships, but is also doing what she can to make sure she doesn’t get burnt out again.
“A part of me makes it kind of hard because I am setting these high expectations for myself and putting pressure on myself that I never really put on myself last year,” Ellis said. “There are a couple of days that I’ve just called coach and said hey there is just too much on my plate right now and I don’t really feel like coming in. They are really understanding about it.”
Barber said the upcoming season could potentially be the most successful swimming season that the Seminoles have had both on the men’s side and the women’s side. Returning to the NCAA Championships is of course on everyone’s mind, but Barber said the team remains “process orientated.”
“If you start thinking about championships and so forth that is the first way to ensure that you don’t win anything,” Barber noted. “If you take care of the process of swimming fast like good starts, underwaters, breakouts, strokes and turns, those are the things that equal fast swimming so those are the things that we come in on a day-to-day basis and try to get better on.”
The 2004-05 campaign was the first in three years that both squads scored points at the NCAA Championships. The men’s team took second at the ACC Championships for the third year in a row by scoring its most points under head coach Neil Harper, while came in fourth with a pair of individual titles. The men return 24 letterwinners for the upcoming season with five newcomers, while 15 letterwinners return on the women’s side to go along with nine new faces.