Ritual and superstition are an engrained part of sports phenomena, but the swimmers and divers of Geneseo Blue Wave choose to prepare in a different way.
The Blue Wave swimming and diving teams consistently put forth their best efforts in the SUNYAC and boast some of the best Division III swimming and diving talent across the country. According to senior captain Elyssa Max, both the men’s and women’s teams understand the importance of staying mentally focused and motivated throughout a meet.
“Swimming is about 90 percent mental,” she said. “Every [SUNYAC] swimmer trains hard to prepare for meets, but races always come down to [which swimmer] is more mentally focused and wants to win more.”
Instead of participating in the superstition that has swept through all levels of organized swimming, Blue Wave relies on its mental strength and unity fostered carefully through team building activities.
According to sophomore swimmer Abby Max, head coach Paul Dotterweich assists in keeping up the team’s mental game by instilling confidence in his swimmers and divers.
“Before every meet, Dotterweich tells us that we are the fastest, smartest and hardest working team in the conference,” Max said.
With the SUNYAC championship starting on Wednesday Feb. 20 for the divers and Thursday Feb. 21 for the swimmers, the men’s and women’s teams have come together to support each other. The squads decorate the other team’s locker rooms, organize team dinners and make posters, signs and streamers to promote rapport and a family atmosphere among the teams.
“We care just as much about the success of the men’s team, as we do our own [success],” Abby Max said.
The women’s team devised its own unique method of motivation in the form of a poster created at the beginning of the season with the heading, “2013 SUNYAC Champions: Geneseo Blue Wave.” At the end of every practice, the swimmers added positive messages to the poster. While at the beginning of the season, the poster was empty, now it symbolizes the growth and unity of the women’s team and serves as inspiration for the upcoming championship.
In addition to posters, signs and streamers, some individuals have their own particular habits prepare themselves for competition.
Junior diver Brandon Peifer said he chooses pep talks before executing a dive and only focuses on one or two key aspects of the dive before leaping off the platform.
“I never think about the whole dive,” Peifer said. “If I do, the whole dynamic of my routine is thrown off.”
In between dives Peifer said he plays with a Rubik’s cube to remain focused and to calm his nerves.
It is no wonder then that superstitions are so engrained in this sport’s culture. There is a belief that perfect repetition leads to perfect execution.
Blue Wave members might argue otherwise. Their method, of emphasizing team unity and solid support seems to be working just fine.