The Butler women’s swim team traveled to Florida and the Bahamas during break, but it was far from a vacation.
Head coach Maurice Stewart gave them a training trip they won’t soon forget.
Through the hard workouts, the girls not only became better swimmers, but also closer as a team. Freshmen Kaitie Ring and Kathleen Brannen both said the trip set the tone for the final month of their season.
“I felt like the team definitely grew closer over the 12 days we were there,” Ring said. “Especially when we took a day trip to the Bahamas.”
Stewart said he felt the trip was very successful because it was a good balance of work and play.
The Bulldogs had a chance to reap the benefits of their work right away when they hosted a meet against Xavier, Hillsdale College, Ball State and Valparaiso last Sunday at Fishers (Ind.) High School.
However, Butler had a difficult time getting swimmers in the top spots of their respective races and finished fifth of the five teams competing. Ball State posted a team score of 802.5 to pick up the win.
Brannen was Butler’s top scorer in the meet, placing 9th in both the 200-yard freestyle and the 200-yard backstroke.
Everyone on this year’s team is either a freshman or sophomore. While that provides the Bulldogs plenty of young talent, it also means they are somewhat inexperienced.
At the start of the season, the new Bulldogs had to transition from high school to college classes, plus swimming and, of course, his coaching style.
“There was an adjustment period for the new girls, but I felt like it was a smooth transition,” Stewart said.
The girls have one meet in particular circled on their calendar before the season is out.
They travel to Terre Haute, Ind., Feb. 5 to take on the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology and IUPUI. Stewart and the team believe they can beat at least one of those two teams.
The season concludes Feb. 26 with the last day of the Horizon League Championships in Cleveland.
Ring and Brannen both said they would like to see the team continue to improve at each meet.
“If the team can build off the success that we’ve been having and carry that momentum into the conference meet, I think we’ll all be happy with the results we get,” Brannen said.
The team knows that winning the conference championship isn’t realistic, but they still hope to show all the improvement they have made over the course of the season.
To reach its goals, the team will need strong performances out of all members.
Ring and Brannen both said if the team can continue to bond, it will also increase their chances of reaching those goals.
As far as her own goals, Brannen said she wants to make the finals in every event she swims, including the 1650-yard freestyle, 1000-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle.
Ring had to deal with an ankle injury earlier this season, but she isn’t letting that discourage her.
“I think I’m getting back to where I was before the injury,” Ring said. “It would be great to make finals in everything I swim, but especially the 100-yard backstroke.
“We feel that we can reach our goals and have a great final month of the season.”