Illini women’s swimming and diving team lean on training for wins at Miami Invitational

With the fall break interrupting the Illini’s practice schedule and the Miami Invitational coming up this weekend, head coach Sue Novitsky had to trust that all the members of the swimming and diving team would continue training on their own.

“I didn’t check on them. I just trusted them,” Novitsky said. “It’s good to show that confidence in them, and it’s always nice to have a break.”

Fortunately for Novitsky, they followed through and trained during their week off.

“I just continued to train hard,” senior swimmer Amy Forsberg said. “Sue sent us e-mails with swimming, dry land and weight sets to follow.”

The Invitational, hosted by Miami (Ohio) University, consists of eight women’s teams and is spread out over Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The prelims for each event are in the mornings, and the finals are at night, besides the two events held only on Thursday evening. The top 27 swimmers or divers from the prelims for each event will compete that night in the finals.

“They’re going to have to get up and swim fast in the mornings,” Novitsky said. “It’s a very different format than we’re used to.”

Having this large of a meet compressed into only three days can be tough on the athletes.

“It’s not the ideal setting, but it allows (the team) to overcome some adversity,” Novitsky said. “They need to have mental toughness, not be afraid to get a little dirty and mix it up. I tell them it’s going to hurt, get over it.”

Having competed in the event last year, the upperclassmen were able to tell the freshmen what they should be anticipating this weekend.

“Everyone keeps talking about how there have been faster times,” freshman Kim Kalenda said. “They said to expect season-best times.”

Although this meet is rigorous and can be tough on the athletes, Novitsky keeps the team on the same training schedule regardless of the size of the meet.

“Our long-term training plan won’t fully peak until the Big Tens,” said Novitsky. “There are no mornings or practices off. There are little adjustments but the overall volume is still same. We don’t back off.”

Usually when a season hits its midpoint the athletes begin to grow a little weary and fatigue starts to set in, but some of the swimmers have yet to feel those effects.

“I feel a lot stronger,” Kalenda said. “I’m getting a lot more training and more one-on-one time with my coaches to help fix things.”