Versatile third-year swimmer Emily Testa knows that at this time of year, it's all about confidence. Testa and her teammates will work to rebuild their confidence in preparation for the upcoming UAA conference championship meet after falling to St. Mary's College this past Saturday at the Myers-McLoraine Pool in the Ratner Center.
Although St. Mary's outscored Chicago 123-77 overall, two Maroons stood out in individual events. Testa took first in the 200-yard. individual medley with a time of 2:20.83. She also surpassed the field in the 100-yard. freestyle event, clocking in at 57.23.
Testa was pleased with her performance.
"Every race is about improving relative to earlier swims, whether the improvement is in time or strategic swimming," she said. "I feel I made progress in both these aspects this past weekend."
First-year Katherine Yang has consistently shown that she is also a valuable competitor. She made a strong showing two weekends ago at the Maroons' triangular meet, and she delivered again this weekend winning the 500-yard freestyle event in 5:26.97 and the 1,000-yard freestyle in 11:11.50.
With Saturday's loss the Maroons ended their stretch of dual meets with a record of 2-4. Saturday's meet was their home finale, and now the team is preparing for their trip to Atlanta, Georgia, to compete in the UAA conference championship meet from February 11-14. Testa knows the conference meet will punctuate her team's season of improvement, and she believes that she and her teammates are ready.
"We've already put in long practice hours over the past four months," Testa said. "At this point, all that's left to do is get psyched up and believe that we can step up to the challenge at UAAs."
Testa's comments suggest that, this year, more than just the facilities have improved for Chicago women's swimming. More than ever, these athletes have dedicated themselves to the kind of individual progress that will elevate the performance of the whole team.
"We have nearly doubled our [roster] size since last year, and I think on the basis of numbers alone we should surprise some people," Testa pointed out. "Beyond that, the individuals on the team are strong competitors. We've been getting in more practices than in past years, and I think that this hard work will pay off with fast swimming at conference."
Testa acknowledged that the Maroons swim in a strong conference. According to her, host team Emory University and the Bears from Washington University will bring fast times to the UAA championship meet, although all the teams will have formidable competitors in every event.
Regardless of the caliber of their UAA opponents, Testa and the rest of the Maroons have shown that confidence comes with preparation and the will to compete solidly in each event eight days from now in Atlanta.