Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gone Swimming-NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships

By: Lauren Biggers

Yesterday, I set off for Lafayette, Ind., the site of the 2010 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships with Davidson head coach
John Young and junior swimmer Lindsey Martin. Over the next several days, my co-worker Mark Brumbaugh and I will be dual-bloggging our parallel experiences at the NCAA Wrestling and Swimming Championships. (I expect I’ll be winning, but I’m a little biased). I will be your tour guide as Lindsey becomes the very first Davidson swimmer ever to compete at the NCAA championships. All aboard...

After an assist from assistant swimming coach Kylie Gamelier, John, Lindsey and I boarded the plane to Indiana by way of Atlanta (seriously, it’s like a sick joke South, and I’m over it). Even though I got in line behind the couple with two babies, I still beat the pair through security. The flight itself was fairly uneventful, but for my US Weekly and the endless enjoyment I get from remembering the Jerry Seinfeld standup routine about seatbelts every time I fly. We were barely up in the air before we were landed in Atlanta, and a Perrier (not mine) and a Coke Zero (mine) later (for a steal at only $1.39 each), we were back on a plane. @J_young twittered all the details.

Trying to finish a baseball release on Andrew Barna being named the
SoCon Player of the Month (!!), I toyed with the idea of using my Verizon Card on the plane, but fearing a mammoth cell phone bill and the ensuing wrath of SID Marc Gignac, decided against it. The second flight had Parks and Rec on the in-flight cable AND peanuts. Major upgrade. Bonus points for remembering to bring my own headphones. Who’s an experienced traveler now? This girl.

After securing our silver Rav4 from the Budget, we made the hour-ish long drive from Indianapolis to Lafayette. Not knowing I couldn’t navigate myself out of a paper bag, John hands me his iphone (ha, smart phones. As if.) UM, we got a little lost, but Lindsey, the above-average navigator, quickly got us back on track. Good thing we brought her along, I said sarcastically.

Sure enough, we made it safely to Lafayette, and though the peanuts (two bags!) were good, we needed food. This proved a little more difficult than we hoped, as apparently a lot of restaurants in Lafayette close at 10 p.m., but IHOP never disappoints. I settled on an omelet and the swimming pair had pancakes, brought to us by probably the nicest waitress in the history of IHOPs. Seriously.

We checked into our hotel, which was one convenient exit down. Several other teams are staying in our hotel as well. At breakfast the next morning, I see Cal, Virginia, and Missouri, and in typical college athletics road trip style, the tables in the lobbies are full of athletes studying.

John and I take part in the continental breakfast, and he goes to get us checked in and I go to field e-mails from senior men's basketball player Bryant Barr about
Nothing but Nets (May 2! Check it out!). Around 1 p.m. Lindsey joins us and the three of us go grab a sandwich at a bagel shop by the Purdue campus before making our way to the Boilermaker Aquatic Center. The facility, as expected, is impressive with a two sets of lanes and a diving well. While John is at the coaches meeting, Lindsey gets in some laps. The pool, complete with an NCAA logo underwater and NCAA banners and those of competing schools around the spectator’s deck, is quiet with just one other swimmer in the water.

Once she finishes, Lindsey joins me at the media worktable overlooking the pool, where we are eventually joined by John. After a few hours of downtime at the hotel, it is time for dinner. Lindsey’s parents and sister have just arrived and we are meeting her grandparents at Olive Garden, our first strikeout last night. I love meeting the student-athletes' families, and this one is warm and welcoming, even allowing me to ride back with them to the hotel as John departs for the airport to pick up Lindsey’s teammate and roommate Jessica Delgehausen.

Competition begins tomorrow, with Lindsey kicking off her schedule with the 50 freestyle at the 11 a.m. prelims. Thanks for reading, and will check back afterwards.

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