Editor’s Note: The Collegian is posting updates from University of Richmond swimming coach Matt Barany, who is in College Station, Texas, with senior Lauren Beaudreau for the 2009 NCAA Swimming Championships. Beaudreau, competing in nationals for the third time, will swim the 200-yard IM, 400 IM and 200 breastroke through Saturday.
March 21, 11:12 p.m.
Editor’s Note: The blog’s final entry is from Lauren Beaudreau.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Wow, what an experience!
I am very lucky to have had such a great end to a career here in Texas. I’m very proud to have ended it with nearly all lifetime bests, but none of this would be possible without so many of you and all your contributions! So I’d like to thank you, thank you thank you — all of you!
I’d like to thank all the fans for keeping updated on this awesome blog that Dan and Matt have put together.
The Collegian has done a great job this year in covering our little team and they deserve a lot of kudos. Thank you, Dan, for making this possible and doing so with so much enthusiasm.
Obviously, thank you, Matt! It’s crazy to think of how much time we have spent together during the last four years, and I’m realizing now how much I’m going to miss your crazy funny ways to get me pumped up and blasting “Yeah Yeah Yeahs” on the stereo in the morning (or Chemical Brothers, or Beyonce or Andrea Bocelli.) Thank you for keeping everything fun. I don’t think I appreciated this my freshmen year as much as I do now, but looking back I know that I swim fastest and have the most fun when I’m happy and having a good time. You’ve created a great environment for me to swim fast while having fun and laughing, which is a more challenging task than some might think. Thank you for being patient with me these last four years (especially last year) because I know that I can be very stubborn, moody and not always the easiest swimmer to coach. You never fail to make me smile or laugh somehow, no matter how much I don’t want to. Thank you for having faith in me and my swimming when I didn’t have any left. Thank you for giving me that ultimatum last summer. Going through that rough season/year has made these last three months that much sweeter. I have learned a great deal about myself, life, people and swimming at Richmond. Thanks for everything you have taught me, you are an awesome teacher and coach and I have been very lucky to have had your guidance these last four years. Keep up the good work, coach!
Thank you, Danielle! Even though we’ve spent only one year together, your positive attitude and upbeat personality have been a great addition to the team and have inspired me to do my best. Thank you for your funny and inspiring text messages this last week! I kicked my pickles REAL HARD Keep telling the Spiders to give it all they’ve got; you’re a great cheerleader and motivator and a wonderful coach!
Thank you, Jay! Working with you during the last four years has been challenging and very fun. I will miss your pump-up speeches and squat sets very much. I might have to come in and work on my jumping skills sometime, just because I’ll miss the vertimax and you that much! Keep inspiring the Spiders with your great quotes and funny comments!
Also, thank you Dave, Danielle, Katy P, Katie and Brent for all of your help in the past! Thank you to all the supporting coaches and teams at NCAAs for cheering me on and having fun with Matt and I!
Thank you, teammates! I am soooooo happy to have had such a wonderful year with all of you. I can’t even tell you how special this year has been. You all are awesome, no one could ask for a better group of girls. My success this year would not have been possible without having all 17 of you with me! Thank you so much for all the texts, voicemails, e-mails, Facebook wall posts and comments on the blog. Each one of you inspires me to be my best in your own way; I ask only that you all continue the support of one another into next year and take the freshmen under your wings! You all are going to have so much fun in the coming years on the team, and I so envy you for having more time together. I really wish I could be a super senior forever! Know that I’ll always be watching and cheering for Spiderswim!
Thank you, Mom and Dad! I love you both very much, and I am so thankful for all of the support you have given me during the last 15 years of my career. Thanks for making me sign up for swim lessons even though I didn’t want to; swimming has given me so many opportunities and has opened countless doors. From taking me to swim lessons in kindergarten, to sending me off across the country to Richmond, you have always been behind me 100 percent. I’m so happy you made the trip to Texas and watched my last meet. Thanks for yelling, “Be Aggressive Booshki,” before every race. Thank you so much for everything, I love you!
The weather has been great here in Texas, but the company has been even better. My three biggest fans and I have had so much fun this last week, and I’m very sad that it all has to come to an end. SO SAD, but very very happy at the same time. I think for once I am almost satisfied with where I am and how far I have come in my journey in swimming, and it feels good!
Thank you everyone for everything, and for being a part of my swimming journey!
March 21, 5:05 p.m.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — First, Lauren finished her Richmond career with her 26th place performance in the 200 breaststroke. She admitted she wasn’t completely focused throughout the morning … maybe allowing the slightest hint of doubt to creep into her pre-race routine. The distraction is understandable when you are at this meet and some swimmers have already completed the competition schedule, while others are preparing for their last race of the season. Include the emotions of being a senior, and it’s not easy to clear your mind completely of these abnormal circumstances.
She needed to take her race out faster than she did, and this error might have cost her valued time. She came back very strong, and in her words, “I could have kept that speed for another 200 yards!” Unfortunately she doesn’t have another 200 yards.
I don’t know how I can explain the impact Lauren has had on our program. She was a member of four Atlantic 10 team championships, won 11 individual A-10 championships, and roughly 14 relay A-10 championships. She owns four individual school records and four relay records — although she broke and re-broke these records a dozen times. She has competed at the NCAA championship three times and swam four different events at the championships. She has represented the University of Richmond in Texas, Georgia, Minnesota, California, North Carolina, Maryland, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York, and Nebraska. She was our backstroker on the medley relay her freshman year; she moved into the butterfly events so we could upset North Carolina State at home her sophomore year; she swam breaststroke and IM while with teammate Katie Sieben at Olympic Trials after her junior year; and in her senior year, she composed a memorable four-week stretch in which she proved she was a national caliber swimmer.
As her coach, I admit we haven’t had a flawless relationship. I witnessed her battle illness, self-doubt, home-sickness, fear, loneliness, distraction, fatigue, confusion, and every emotion in between. I can tell you her moods by her body language; I can tell you the status of her health by the tone of her skin; I can tell you how fast she is swimming her breaststroke by how many ribs I can see on her back; I can tell myself when to stay far away from her because she wants nothing to do with me (every Thursday afternoon or any other difficult practice). I can create a successful season training plan for her in less than five minutes; I can watch her warm-up and know instantly what she needs “to be ready;” I can watch her swim and know exactly what feedback she is going to give me after her race. We have spent a lot of time together. As her coach, I don’t regret any of it. She has taught me volumes about swimming by just watching her. She has taught how to be a better, more detail-oriented coach. She has taught me more mindless trivia than I will ever need to know. I have 1,000 stories of LB, but I won’t publicly humiliate her (until she graduates).
I am most proud of the model she has created for future generations of Richmond swimmers and Richmond athletes. She swam all four years. She succeeded, failed, and succeeded again. She grew from an individual to a team-player. She leaves the sport at her fastest.
As her coach, I don’t regret any of it. As a mentor, I am deeply proud of her. As her friend, I will miss her.
To all: Thank you for following us in Texas. I appreciate you taking the time to follow Lauren, Richmond swimming, and our university. The Collegian and Dan Petty deserve great credit for exposing swimming to a larger audience. Thank you for valuing athletes beyond the “ESPN” culture. I appreciate your efforts.
Lastly, Lauren has one more assignment while in Texas. She will close this blog before we depart for Richmond tomorrow morning. Check back…
March 21, 10:54 a.m.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Today is the final day of competition in College Station. Lauren swims the 200 Breast (seeded 27th) around 12:30 p.m. ET.
We start each day with a “wake-up” swim at 7 a.m. Today was no different as we have already been to the pool (and Starbucks). Unlike the previous days, she only has to focus on one stroke today — breaststroke. Her breaststroke has looked great this week (and the previous three weeks), so I feel confident she can build a great performance today. I told her our race strategy today is to swim like her hair is on fire … be back soon.
March 20, 3:01 p.m.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — I greeted Lauren today by saying, “It’s a beautiful day for a 400 IM!” I got her usual response to my silliness — she tries not to smile, so she turns her head away from me and gives into a big smile. Of course, I was just talking about the weather and the loud music in the car!
She continues her success here. She dropped another second from 4:11.56 to 4:10.53 and finished 17th (up from 22nd). It is a rare feat to improve at this meet, but she is doing it. The qualifying standards are so competitive that most swimmers have to peak in order to meet the qualifying times. Once they do that, it’s extremely difficult to maintain their high level of fitness for three or four weeks. So we see most swimmers at this meet NOT improve beyond their previous best times. Lauren has been the exception — AND SHE IS A SENIOR.
The 400 IM hasn’t always been nice to her. She doesn’t have much experience in it; in fact, she swam it six or seven times for Richmond in her career (she probably swam her 200 breaststroke 40 times). Initially, she wasn’t willing to embrace it because she couldn’t successfully manage the endurance component. She has four very talented strokes, but her endurance was something she has gained confidence in over time. Last July, we decided she wouldn’t swim it again, and we would focus on her 100 Breast, but this past January we needed her to swim it during a meet vs. UNC, Florida and Rutgers. I didn’t consult her before I entered her in this meet; I just entered her and kinda ignored our old conversation. She recognized the team needed her in the event, she kept to herself and she performed very well at this meet. I think it was this 400 IM at Rutgers that put her on her recent tear of personal bests. Since that meet, she has improved considerably and has created a storybook senior year. Rarely does a 21 year-old senior set personal bests — but she is doing it, and she is doing it at the highest level. SHE IS ONE OF THE 20 BEST IMers IN THE NATION!
I find it very humorous when other coaches ask me about our IM training. They reference Jessica Witt (’08) and Lauren as Richmond swimmers who have great IM capabilities, and both got faster at NCAA’s. The secret: we don’t train IM. Shhhhhhhh.
Swim fans: I thought Lauren looked good going out. She was in a crazy fast heat and we knew their first 200 was going to be impressive. We talked about going out in a 2:01 or faster. She was a 2:01.90 with a slower than expected first 50 backstroke. Coming off her backstroke to breaststroke turn, she jumped on the gas a little too much. I like the looks of her breaststroke splits, but she was working it harder than her usual breaststroke. Like yesterday, she thinks she can still go faster in that event! Craziness.
P.S. Anybody inspired to qualify for this meet next year?
March 20, 1:44 a.m.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — We head towards Day No. 2. Lauren will swim the 400 IM tomorrow. Lauren is seated 22nd in this event.
What is the 400 IM? It’s 100 yards of each stroke. It’s best suited for the versatile swimmer with very good endurance.
When? She will be swimming it at 12:30ish ET … it might be later because she is in the last heat. You can find results here.
Where can you view it? www.swiminfo.com. Click the NCAA icon near the top of the page.
You want more weather? Upper 70s with one cloud in the afternoon.
March 19, 3:03 p.m.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Whoah … it’s a fast meet! Lauren dropped her 200 IM time from 2:00.11 (personal, Richmond, and A-10 record) to a 1:58.10 (wow!!!!!). This improvement moved her from 51st to 21st, but it’s not good enough to score points for Richmond (1st-16th scores points). I encourage everyone to check out the results. It’s super-exciting to see Richmond placing ahead of PAC-10, ACC, SEC, BIG 12, and BIG 10 schools.
Back to her 200 IM … she climbed out of the water after her race and immediately informed me, “I can go faster.” She cited poor technical decisions early in her race cost her some time. I agree with her, and we both recognize this is an easy fix. If she didn’t have speed or endurance at this meet, we would be in trouble. The technical errors are easy to fix because they require more thought not more training or more practice.
She’s frustrated because she doesn’t get another chance to swim this event. I love the idea of her dropping two seconds at this meet and still not being satisfied. This presents a coachable moment for me. She has managed the fear and nerves well, yet we have a new emotion to wrangle now … frustration.
What next? After a long warm-down and lunch, Lauren should be resting this afternoon. Tonight, we will return to the pool to practice for tomorrow’s 400 IM and watch the finals. Her parents are arriving this afternoon, so her fan club in College Station grows from one to three.
Swimming fans: I thought she gave indication in recent practices she could go out much faster than she did. She went out in a 56.79 and I was thinking a 55.9. Her first 100 was considerably slower than the others in her race. What I do like about this race? She came home like a stud. I think only six ladies had a faster free split. She ran down three in her heat to win her heat. If we can take the 400 IM out fast, she isn’t going to die … her race today proves this!
BTW — 79 and sunny.
March 19, 1:03 a.m.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — We arrived on Tuesday here in College Station. Travel was easy; after all, when you are traveling to warmer weather it’s always easy.
I might have the “image of the week” already secured in my memory.
We have prepped Lauren for the sights and sounds of this environment. IT’S THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP! She won’t see another A-10 athlete here (because nobody else qualified); instead, she will be competing with Auburn, Florida, Cal, Texas, Stanford, USC, and the other swimming powers. She will be racing Olympians – American and international. It’s a very fast meet, but she has qualified which means she is mentally and physically talented enough to be on this level.
In prepping her for the meet, we have talked about the sights and sounds. We have also talked about her successfully handling fear and nervousness when it sets in. I have encouraged her to allow these emotions to be her drugs that fuel great performances. I have tried to convince her these motions are very good right now.
On Tuesday night, I watched her put on her Spider suit and cap and stroll down to the competition pool. I stood at the side of the pool to watched her warm-up. She was very good…she looked effortless and all her strokes looked very controlled. But the image I will remember is the image of a Spider swimming in a lane with the Arizona Wildcats. She could have chosen any lane, but she was brave enough to dive in the lane with the defending national champion. She is brave enough to represent Richmond all by herself – and do it very well.
Swimming Fans (UR SWIM TEAM): She warmed-up a lot of IM today in prep for her 200 IM tomorrow. She wore the LZR legs tonight, and the love affair between girl and suit continues. We spoke briefly about her IM splits, and believe it or not, we haven’t really talked about a goal time because we have focused entirely on her splits. She told me, “I feel good.” I can’t remember the last time Lauren admitted she felt good in the water … scary thought. I miss you guys.”