On a clear and sunny weekend just before Thanksgiving, the Mills Cyclones took part in a swim meet at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC).
The team acknowledged that they were distracted for the first two days of the meet — the bus broke down and one member of the team suffered a health problem that required the paramedics. But they managed to overcome these adversities on the final day.
“There was a lot going on,” coach Neil Virtue said of the first two days of the meet. “Lots of distractions. It was hard to know in the moment how they swam.” But he added, “To me, on that third day, I finally felt like it was a meet.”
Out of eight swimmers, four swimmers made the top 10 personal best times at Mills College: Dani Sherman, Gaby Amberchan, Amelia True, and Casey Henggeler.
“I thought the swims were very good,” Virtue said. “There were a lot of significant personal best times.”
The drops in times ranged from three seconds to over one minute.
“I’m coming off an injury,” Henggeler said. “Being able to hold the times I had is exciting for me.”
Sherman said that for the most part the meet went well.
“We had a few complications throughout the meet as a team but I was still able to pull out two personal best times in my 400 [individual medley] and the 1650 [freestyle],” Sherman said in an email.
Amberchan agreed that the meet went well, for herself and for the team as a whole. She noted that this was the team’s first away meet of the season and that it was a good chance for first-year swimmers to experience a meet outside of Mills — especially in dealing with a change in the quality of the pools.
“The pool tasted horrible,” Amberchan said. “Everyone kept going up to Neil, saying, ‘Neil, the water tastes awful!'”
At the end of the pool used for races, there’s a bulkhead, which is a detachable wall used to divide the pool into smaller sections. Amberchan said that everyone had to adjust to the bulkhead as well as to the shallower level of the pool.
“It took some adjustments for the swimmers because of the water,” Virtue said.
But for Amberchan, she managed to beat her personal times. She dropped 26 seconds off her mile time, she said.
Vivian Earons, a junior, said that though the meet was a little hectic, it ended up being a good one.
“Of my three races, I had personal best times in two of them with pretty significant time drops,” Earons said. “Having been injured at the start of our season and still coming back from that injury, it makes those time drops feel really significant to my personal growth this season.”
Earons didn’t expect to drop time in her personal bests.
“I try to go into swim meets with the goal of swimming my best and staying within my average time bracket from our practices,” Earons said.
Sherman said that this meet showed how well the team gets along and how they can pull together regardless of circumstances.
“Literally everyone had best times or top 10 times [in] this meet and I think that says a lot about our team as a whole,” Sherman said. “For me personally, it just prepared me even more for our championship meet because if I could do that well even with the complications, imagine what I can do at championships.”
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