By James Hemker
After a long fall season filled with practices and invitationals, the Stanford men’s swimming and diving team will open their winter dual meet season this morning against the University of the Pacific (UoP).
The seventh-ranked Cardinal (1-0, Pac-12 1-0) are looking for a strong start to the bulk of the dual meet season. The team’s only dual meet this year was a victory against Utah at the beginning of October.
The main purpose of the fall season was to give the team, especially its newest members, collegiate swimming experience. The Cardinal swam in two invitationals at Texas and UoP. They also held their annual Triple-Distance Meet against Cal Berkeley. All of these events were not scored, but they began acclimating the team to true racing conditions.
Today’s meet against the Tigers (0-1) will provide an excellent jumping off point for the rest of the season. Head coach Ted Knapp said, “The meet against UoP will be a really good chance to get in some quality swims.” This meet has kicked off Stanford’s winter quarter every year for the past 10 years, and the Cardinal have triumphed in each meeting.
Swimming is one of the few competitive sports in which one team has no effect on how the other team performs. There is no defense or offense, and the clock is judge, jury and executioner. As a coach, that means that there is relatively little strategy change based on the opponent at the time. The best indicator of how competitive a coach thinks the other team will be how many of his or her own swimmers are racing in their best events.
For today’s meet, Knapp seems pretty relaxed: “They won’t all be in their speciality. Some of the swimmers will be in their off events. I want to keep some of their events a little bit fresh. As we get into the conference dual meets against the really good teams, we will have to swim everybody in their best events.”
This meet is just one of two remaining home meets for the Cardinal men, with the other being in early February. As with any other sport the largest home advantage is the crowd. Though it is not obvious at first, the swimmers can see and hear the support from the stand during their races.
The first swimmers will take their marks at 11 a.m. PST in Avery Aquatics Center.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.