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Old 02-06-2023, 07:04 AM   #1501
Breeze
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Northern Suburbs of ATL
Conference Championship Update 2

A quick follow up to the above post. After trying really hard to get approvals on the layout for the senior towels the coach pulled the plug and instead went with a t-shirt she could get done quickly that says "Permanently Tapered" with the teams Viking head logo between the two words. It a great shirt for that purpose as it really seems to sum up the situation. It's not as nice as an embroidered towel, but with the time crunch getting even tighter while waiting on approval for the layout, it's probably for the best.

The stocking caps are also off. We needed the school to provide patches that could be sewn on, but they apparently didn't have enough around and it would have taken too long to get them delivered to mee the start of the meet on Wednesday (2/8).

We've now returned the caps and the towels, so our efforts amounted to nothing. We tried. Once again, another unfortunate result that this happened in Bear's final season.
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Old 02-07-2023, 09:59 AM   #1502
Breeze
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Join Date: Oct 2002
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SAA Conference Championship - Preview

Typically, when I do the previews I have the psych sheet to work from, so I know where all the swimmers are seeded. It allows me a pretty good insight into what is likely to happen. For instance, I would know the strength of the field in each event. Like last year when the 200 IM, 200 Free, and 500 Free had a disproportionate number of the top swimmers in conference competing. Whereas, the 200 fly and the 200 back didn't even have 16 swimmers so simply finishing the event without being DQed would earn points. Unfortunately, this year - I can't find the psych sheet anywhere so I'm going into this pretty much blind.

From the in season results, I could be a pretty exciting meet. Birmingham Southern comes in as the overall favorite, but in a couple of cases it looks like it could be pretty tight. According to collegeswimming.com the in season results based on a championship meet formats have the following:

Code:
1 BSC – 579.06 2 Rhodes – 530.12 3 Centre – 524.54 4 Berry – 510.26 5 Hendrix – 390.67 6 Millsaps– 285.42 7 Sewanee – 260.48

When I look into swim performance scores (based on the quality of the swims not the quantity) this is what the standings look like:

Code:
1 BSC – 637 2 Rhodes – 618 3 Berry – 606 4 Centre – 598 5 Hendrix – 502 6 Millsaps– 479 7 Sewanee – 394

Finally, when a run a simulation of the meet, this is what I end up with:

Code:
1 BSC – 896 2 Rhodes – 618 3 Centre – 594 4 Berry – 527 5 Millsaps– 227 6 Hendrix – 222 7 Sewanee – 220

My personal assumption at this point is that BSC will win again, but they won't win by the numbers the simulator indicates. I think they win by around 100 points or so. I do think that Center beats Berry for 3rd overall, which is disappointing because the team lost around 90 points when the 3 swimmers quit earlier in the season (Breck, Hunter, and Emilio). Plus Bear having to come out of distance swims brings his productivity down. When it's all said and done it will be interesting to see where an additional 100 points (not counting impact on relays) would have put Berry.

Bear

Unlike the previous years where Bear was competing in the 1650 Free, 500 Free, 200 Free or 400 IM, this year he's had to abandon those events due to should issues. We knew this pretty early on, but what we weren't sure about was what events he'd end up doing. My hope was he'd still be able to compete in the 200 Free and Fly, as I believe he might be able to medal in the 200 Fly. Unfortunately, the coach and he decided even training for the 200s would put too much stress on the shoulder, so he became strictly sprint. These are the events on his schedule:

100 Free (PB - 49.29 : SB - 49.44) - Bear's season best time of 49.44, brings him into this event with the 27th fastest time in conference this season, and his personal best time would keep him at 27th. This is a far cry from the top 16. The good news is that quite a few of the swimmers in front of him won't be racing the 100 Free, which is why I want to see the psych sheet. Prior to the start of each season, I take a look at the trends from the previous years to determine how likely a swimmer is to scoring in an event. I had Bear as likely to make the back end of the B final in the 100 Free. However, it's extremely close. In 2021 the 16th place swimmer posted a 49.48, in 2022 the 16th spot was a 49.41. Bear might need to get a personal best to make the B final, but based on his times in season, I think a personal best is within reach. I really like to see him in the 48s.

100 Fly (PB - 53.33 : SB - 53.76) - Just like the 100 Free, Bear has posted a time close to his personal best in this event. In this event Bear has the 18th fastest time on the season in conference and his personal best time is 16th. In my preseason write up, I had Bear as likely to make the top half of the B final, but again it's close, only this time with slipping into the A final. The 8th place swimmer in 2021 posted a 53.27, in 2022 the time was a 53.03. So with a good swim Bear might just find himself in an A final. I'd like to see him in the mid 52s. I certainly think he's capable fully tapered and motivated.

That's it, Bear will only be swimming 2 personal events, despite the fact he's allowed to swim 3. Given he's only training for 100s, that would leave the 100 breast, which while he's improved a good bit this season, isn't likely to score in what is one of the deepest events in conference. The 100 back would also be an option, and it's been a weaker event for the SAA, but Bear isn't close to getting into the 16. And the final option would be the 50 free, and while his sprints have gotten better, he'd need to improve on his personal best to make the back end of the B final, and my guess is, with the improved field, it will likely take a 22 flat to make finals in the splash and dash.

Rather than take a 3rd event that would be wasted, Bear elected to take the team approach and swim in all 5 relays. Here is how I believe this breaks down.

200 Medley Relay (B) - The B relay is Alex (back), Mac (breast), Bear (fly) and Paxton (free). It's very difficult to project the B relays because the conference only keeps the top times for each school. Also, projecting who will be on the A and who'll be on the B is next to impossible. There are so many variables that it's impossible to determine what each individual coach might do. I can say that Alex, while he won't swim back in this event, is good enough to make the top half of the B final in the 100 back based on his personal best time. Mac will likely make the back half of the A final in the 100 beast. I broke Bear's fly down above. Paxton is the real wild card in this relay. He could go sub 22 in this relay (as he's done before), but he isn't the most consistent performer (a good bit of that is probably due to the nature of the sprint free, where minor mistakes can make major differences in time). All in all, this is a very solid B group. Not sure if they win the B final, but they should have a good swim.

800 Free Relay (A) - Despite the fact that Bear has only trained in 100s, they've put him on the A relay for this event. He'll partner with Ross, Ethan and Billy. Ross is a top 5 swimmer in this event, Ethan comes in with the 13th best 200 free time in conference, and Billy is right behind with 15th best. Bear, in his limited swims at this distance is still 19th, posting a season best time of 1:48.84. I'm not sure what to expect here. If he were in shape for this race with the taper I'd expect he's swim in the 1:44 range. Not sure he can do that this time out. Hopefully he can because they come in with the 3rd fastest time in this event in conference, well behind Centre and BSC, but a couple of seconds ahead of Rhodes. If they can finish 3rd, Bear should get a medal for the event. The problem is Rhodes has 2 of the top 5 swimmers in this event, with 2 other solid pieces - it could be difficult to hold them off if they try to get that 3rd place spot.

200 Free Relay (A) - Bear will race with Sam, Noah, and Harrison in the 200 free. Sam and Noah have the 6th and 3rd fastest time in conference to date. Harrison is 18th and Bear 26th. However, the margins in this race are tiny - so every little thing will make a bid difference. Exchanges, turns, and breakouts become infinitely more important. Bear needs a good swim here to keep the team in contention for a medal. The teams fastest time of the season is 3rd, .37 behind Centre for second and .58 ahead of BSC. Something tells me BSC will be able to ramp this up from their in season times, and holding on to 3rd is going to be a real challenge.

400 Medley Relay (B) - In this medley relay, unlike the 200, Bear will slide to the Free leg as Ross moves in to take the Fly. They will team with Billy in back and Ryan on breast. Again this is a strong B relay. Billy is likely a backend A finalist in the back. Ryan, who might not swim the 100 breast, is at least a top time in the B final for the Breast, and Ross, who never really gets to race this event, could post a 51 second split, which would put him in the A finals. Again, I suspect this should be one of the better B relays.

400 Free Relay (B) - It was close here on where Bear would swim, but ultimately he put himself on the B in favor of Ross taking the A slot. Ross has gone 46 splits in relays at conference before, so his upside is much higher and it's probably the right call. Obviously, results in this meet could lead to changes in this or any of the aforementioned teams. Bear will team with Alex, Ethan, and either Paxton or Mac for this race. As I've noted numerous times - Bear and Alex post almost identical times in this event, and Mac isn't far behind. I don't suspect this relay team to be particularly strong. This is where the lack of depth has really hurt the team, and to be honest the defections early in the season. Two of the three swimmers that quit would have been factors in the free relays, and without them the team has to dig deeper in to the roster to field the team. There are so many good freestylers in swimming and in this conference, that the moment you're forced to go to plan B or C, you're forfeiting a lot to the field.

Overall - I suspect this is a bittersweet situation for Bear. He goes from being one of the best distance swimmers in the conference his first 2 years to a sprint swimmer who'll struggle to make finals. That's a let down, but there is an excitement to trying something new. I suspect he'll beat his personal best in both the 100 free and fly, which will be a nice way to go out. Moreover, getting to swim 5 relays with his buds (which has been the best part about swimming for Bear I'm sure), should make this championship his most fun and likely most memorable despite the lack of a strong individual performance.

All in all, it's probably a good thing that Bear is graduating early. Given his problems with his shoulders he likely shouldn't swim beyond this year. I just hope he has fun at the end of this journey so he can look back fondly on his time in the pool. It's been about 15 years of his life he's been in the pool grinding out lap after lap, it would be nice to go out with some good times (swim wise) and good times (fun wise).

Last edited by Breeze : 02-10-2023 at 04:30 PM.
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Old 02-07-2023, 09:37 PM   #1503
Breeze
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Northern Suburbs of ATL
SAA Conference Championship - Schedule

Day 1

On the first day of the meet, the events will be:

800 Free Relay

20 minute break

200 Medley Relay

Diving


Bear will be in both relays.

Last edited by Breeze : 02-07-2023 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 02-08-2023, 07:55 AM   #1504
Breeze
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Northern Suburbs of ATL
SAA Conference Championship - Bear

Bear texted us last night (2/7) to make sure the number he had in his phone for Coach Andy (club team coach) was still good. He wanted to let him know he was about to start his final meet and to thank him. I'm assuming he did the same for the Coach

I wanted to record this here, because I thought it was a classy move, and one Bear felt compelled to do without any prompting. I also feel that it helps to illustrate some of the impact swimming has and how the sport seems to become your life. I guess when you spend so much of your time with the same people doing the same things in order to improve fractions of a second - ultimately you can't help but develop a family like relationship with those around you.

I think this is going to be harder than I expected. I know that the wife teared up when she found out why Bear wanted Coach Andy's number.
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Old 02-08-2023, 10:48 PM   #1505
Breeze
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Join Date: Oct 2002
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SAA Conference Championship - Schedule

Day 2

500 Free
200 IM
50 Free
200 Free Relay


Bear will only be competing in the 200 Free Relay. He was scheduled to be on the A, and he swam well in the free leg on the 200 Medley relay the first night, so hopefully he holds on to the spot.

Last edited by Breeze : 02-12-2023 at 09:33 PM.
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Old 02-10-2023, 07:25 AM   #1506
Breeze
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Northern Suburbs of ATL
SAA Conference Championship - Schedule

Day 3


400 IM
100 Fly
200 Free
100 Breast
100 Back
400 Medley Relay


Bear is in the 100 Fly. He comes in seeded 15th, with his buddy Alex 16th. To make it back for B finals, both will need to swim at least their seed time of around 53.7. To make A finals it would take significant drop to around a 51.7, which isn't likely. Bear continues to look good, and he's posting some strong splits in his relays, so I expect an improvement, and even a personal best. But I don't think he can get below a 52 flat.

Last edited by Breeze : 02-10-2023 at 07:26 AM.
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Old 02-10-2023, 07:34 AM   #1507
Breeze
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Location: Northern Suburbs of ATL
SAA Conference Championship - Bear

When we got to the meet on Wednesday, the wife was chatting with one of the other parents then they asked, "How's Bear's eye?"

Well, this was news to us, we weren't aware anything was wrong with Bear's eyes. We did see it a bit on Wednesday, but we didn't get a chance to talk to him about it. Yesterday he explained what happened.

During his last ever practice one of the breaststroke girls kicked him right in the googles. He said it hurt, but it wasn't anything terrible. It wasn't like he felt like he had a concussion, and it didn't feel like anything terrible had occurred, it just hurt. When he got to the wall he got out and took his goggles off, and was just standing there relaxing, but blood was pouring down his check. The coach sprinted to the trainers to get help. All the while Bear just stood there. One of his teammates told him, it was pretty hardcore - standing there with blood gushing out of your eye socket and you just as relaxed as can be.

Turns out the kick had caused the goggles to cut it eye in several places, including a couple of small place on the eyelid itself. He has a nasty black eye that is still a bit oozy, but he says it really doesn't hurt at all.

He did go to the doctor, whey they told him that his eye is fine. There is no damage and nothing that should impact his vision.
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Old 02-10-2023, 10:53 PM   #1508
Breeze
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Northern Suburbs of ATL
SAA Conference Championship - Schedule

Day 4


200 Back
100 Free
200 Breast
200 Fly
400 Free Relay


Bear is in the 100 Free. Unlike last night when the times were pre-loaded into the Meet Mobile application so I knew where Bear was seeded, this time the information isn't available. I believe Bear will be seeded in a similar spot to where he was in the fly, and he'll likely need a personal best to even make it back for finals. To make A finals, I think it's likely going to take sub 48 second swim, and maybe even sub 47.5, which I don't think he can do. He does still look very good. As good as he's looked in sprints, probably ever and certainly since he was dominating the age group sessions.

This has been a lot of fun, hard to believe tomorrow will be our last day ever.
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Old 02-11-2023, 11:28 PM   #1509
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Been following this story for 11+ years. Best thread ever. Whatever has happened, I hope it went well and lasting, positive memories were made.


When you end this, please give an update on all three of your kick-ass kids.
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Old 02-13-2023, 09:36 AM   #1510
Breeze
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Northern Suburbs of ATL
SAA Conference Championship

Sorry for the late reply. We stayed pretty late at the facility on Saturday following the session. Lots of hugs and picture taking. By the time we ate and got back to the hotel room I was physically and emotionally spent. Then yesterday we got up early to drive home, and I just didn't have the energy to jump into recording what happened. I'm still processing, but I'll try to get to some updates on the results today.

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Old 02-13-2023, 12:04 PM   #1511
Breeze
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Northern Suburbs of ATL
SAA Conference Championship- RESULTS

Day 1

Wednesday was relay day only...the 200 Medley and the 800 Free. Now before I get into any description, let me establish one point for ease of writing and understanding. For our particular purposes the relays were a 4 team affair - BSC, Centre, Rhodes, and Berry. The remain 3 teams lack the depth to compete in any relays, but especially the B relays, where you are now digging into your 5th through 8th best swimmers.


Bear

200 Medley Relay - Bear swam the free leg on the B relay. At the start of the race the Berry backstroker lost significant ground to the other top 3 teams. By the breaststroke leg, the team already trailed by about half a second (or half a body length). Mac (breaststroke leg), outclassed the Centre swimmer and moved the team in 3rd, but the other 2 teams remained well ahead. Ross was unable to close on the leaders and Bear dove in over a second and a half back. He looked amazing. Better than he's looked in a sprint in years, and he posted a strong 21.32 split. I'm pretty confident that's his fastest relay split ever, but there's no easy way to confirm that. Bear was unable to real in the Rhodes and BSC team and Berry settled for 3rd in the B.

However, the A relay is a different story. Billy did the back and just like the B relay he trailed by about half a second at the end of his leg. Here is where the difference starts - Sam Tate, was an absolute monster this weekend. He split a 24.83, only .7 behind Billy's back split. By the time his leg finished, he had gone from 4th to 2nd, blown by both BSC and Centre and trailed Rhodes by only .24 second. Noah was next, he too had a fantastic week. He split a 20.86, a full 1.4 seconds faster than the next closest split in the relay. Harrison dove in with the lead and held off all challengers as Berry won the relay. In fact, they recorded a meet and team record time of 1:30.38. The sad part is - they were .01 off of getting an NCAA D3 B cut time, which would have potentially allowed them to swim at the National Championships, as not many teams will get the B cut.

800 Free Relay - The B team of Ryan, Alex, Keith and Mac managed to take second in their heat. A nice showing with Alex swimming particularly well. Bear swam in the A relay, and the team started out with a good but not great swim from Ross. He managed a 1:42.5 split - but last year he was splitting 1:41 lows. Like 1:41.05 low, so he was off by 1.5 seconds and the team found themselves in 3rd place early. Ethan went second and split a 1:44.13. A good time for him, but he was expecting to go faster. Berry found themselves in 3rd place and 2 seconds back.

Bear was the next to swim and he took it out FAST. He opened with a 23.28 split, which is basically his 100 pace. He followed that up with a very good 25.72 for an opening 100 of 49 seconds, about .4 better than his 100 free personal best (albeit with a rolling start). His efforts cut into the second place team's lead by about .6 seconds, but at this point I was very concerned. In Bear's personal best 200 Free from last year's championship meet, he split a 51.23 in the first 100. He's 2.23 seconds faster than that, and he's NOT training distance. Unfortunately, the effort got him and he closed poorly, eventually recording a 1:47 second split, and ultimately losing 3rd place to Rhodes. The anchor only lost more ground and Berry settled for 4th.

I believe that Bear took the swim out too fast because of a combination of a couple of things. First, he's been training sprint, so the natural reaction is go to out like a sprint. Second, he didn't really do many 200s in season, especially after fully committing to sprinting, so he wasn't aware of how the race was going to impact him. Finally, he's done the 200 of years, and he knows how his body usually reacts, so he took it out like he would in a 200 thinking he was keeping something in reserve for the back half, but because he wasn't training distance that reserve ended up not being there.

Bear was crushed. He felt he really let the team down, and the coach felt she had really let Bear down, because she didn't get him properly prepped for the race. Honestly, if he had just gone out a bit more conservatively I think he could have split a very respectable 1:45, it was just too much under his new normal.

Last edited by Breeze : 02-15-2023 at 07:47 AM.
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Old 02-14-2023, 09:19 AM   #1512
Breeze
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Northern Suburbs of ATL
SAA Conference Championship- RESULTS

Day 2

Because of Bear's shortened schedule this year, he didn't swim at all in the morning session on Day 2.

In the finals here are some of the interesting notes:

500 Free - Neither Ross nor Ethan swam particularly well. Ross finished a distant 4th, and Ethan managed to finish 5th about 7 seconds behind Ross. Both were disappointed in their performance in this event. The big surprise here was Keith Scarbor. Before the season started I had him pegged as a potential distance swimmer, and even though he had never really trained for distance he definitely showed he has the potential. Keith managed to finish 10th overall with a personal best swim of 4:52.68. With his long and smooth stroke he could move up the rankings here quickly.

200 IM - Sam Tate continued to be a force at this meet, with a win in this event, and not just a win - a win by over a full seconds. He completely dominated. Ryan finished 4, only about a quarter of a second out of the medals. Mac managed to finish 11th.

50 Free - Noah ended up tied for 2nd in this event (an unfortunate situation that I'll explain later), losing to last years swimmer of the meet Bryan Sullivan. The amazing thing in this event was the swim of Paxton. This is the same guy who couldn't start the season on time due to a leg fracture, then he got mono, then he got the flu - but regardless - he posted a personal best time of 21.67 and finished 12th. In his career, Paxton on swam sub 22 three times, two of them were during this event - once in prelims and once here. Harrison finished 14th. Every swimmer in this event was sub 22 - those times would have almost put all 16 of these swimmers in the A final in '22. Some of these events were SOOOO much faster than last year.


Bear

200 Free Relay - coming into this event, Bear was scheduled to swim on the A relay. It would likely be his last A relay slot and with that his last shot at a medal. However, following Paxton's fantastic swim in the 50 free, I was concerned he might take Bear's spot. The only thing Bear had going for him was his relay starts. Paxton isn't good at them and Bear is. Ultimately, they left Bear in, and he ended up swimming a 21.46 split. He combined with Noah (20.95 - leadoff), Harrison (20.98), and Sam (20.17) to take 3rd - and earn the bronze. If you're curious - the B team of Alex, Billy, Ethan, and Paxton took 11th. Paxton split a 21.59 from the anchor leg.

Last edited by Breeze : 02-15-2023 at 07:46 AM.
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Old 02-15-2023, 09:01 AM   #1513
Breeze
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Northern Suburbs of ATL
SAA Conference Championship- RESULTS

Day 3

400 IM - Berry had 3 swimmers in the 400 IM finals, Ryan, who improved from 6th in '22 to 4th in '23. Ethan also swam this event, and he continued to struggle at this meet, adding 5 seconds to his '22 time and dropping from 4th to 7th overall. Keith, filling the role of the grinder admirably, made the B final and finished 13th.

200 Free - This is another event that became significantly more difficult. Prior to this season a time of 1:44 was good enough to keep you in medal contention. This year it took a 1:44 just to make the A finals. With that in mind, and the fact that Ross didn't swim particularly well in the 500, it's not surprising to hear that he added a couple of seconds to his '22 time and dropped back to 6th. Harrison had an interesting event. He qualified 12th with a 1:47.61 in prelims, but if finals he came out an attacked the race. By the end of the first 100 he was leading the field by 1.7 seconds - almost 2 full body lengths. He held on in back half to win the B heat by 1.5 seconds and post a time of 1:44.17. Billy rounded out the scoring in this event with a 13th place finish.

100 Breast - Sam Tate qualified for finals in 3rd place, and he actually swam .03 faster in finals than in prelims, but a 6'7" swimmer was able to out touch him for 3rd. Mac made A finals and finished 6th, and Andrew swam a 1:01.19, usually good enough to be top 10, but he had to settle for 14th.

100 Back - Berry only entered 1 swimmer in this event, Freshman Nate Wright, who was able to make it into the B final and ultimately finish in 13th place. dropping over a second from his seed time.


Bear

100 Fly (Seed - 53.76, PB - 53.33) - Bear's first individual event of the meet, and it was going to be a tough one. This was another case of an event that became significantly faster in '23. Bear's prelim swim was a good one. His form was fantastic, he stayed low and pushed forward well. He post a personal best time of 52.26, but that was only good enough for 12th. Until this year, a sub 53 was good enough for A finals. This year only 1 swimmer in the 53 second range made it back for B finals.

In finals, Bear's swim was almost identical to his prelim one. He ended up coming in .18 seconds slower, and he also slipped back to 14th place posting a 52:44. He was disappointed in this result. He never specified what his goal here was, but I believe he wanted to go under 52 seconds.

400 Medley Relay - Ae expected Bear was on the B relay. There was some discussion around what the two relays would look like. Would Ross do fly on the A and Noah the free. Would Sam do breast of back, and who swims the leg that Sam doesn't. Ultimately, the teams looked like this...

A Relay - Sam (back), Mac (breast), Noah (fly), Harrison (free)
B Relay - Billy (back), Ryan (breast), Ross (fly), Bear (free)

In the B relay, Billy split a 52.9, good enough to put the team in a distance 2nd place, behind BSC, who opened with a 51.63. In the breast, Ryan swam a 58 flat split, slightly off of the BSC time, but he expanded the lead on the rest of the field. Ross swim a nice 51.48 split, but the BSC swimmer was in the 49 second range, and at this point Berry was well out of first in the heat. Bear swam a very good 47.71 split, which was more than fast enough to hold on to the second place finish.

In the A relay, Sam opened with a 51.29, good enough for second place. Mac was next out and he slipped to 3rd due to a strong swim by BSC's breaststroker. Noah was third, and he smoked a 47.98 split - almost 2 seconds faster than the next flyer in the field. This put Berry back in second place, with a 1 second lead on BSC. The free leg was tight as the BSC anchor split a 44.98, but Harrison swam a 45.69, good enough to beat the Panthers by about half a body length. Berry earned the silver medal here, but at a cost. Sam, in his attempts to go faster banged his head on the wall when finishing the backstroke leg. He ended up in the concussion protocol, and wasn't able to swim the last day of the meet.

Last edited by Breeze : 02-16-2023 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 02-16-2023, 09:46 AM   #1514
Breeze
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Northern Suburbs of ATL
SAA Conference Championship - RESULTS

Day 4

200 Back - Billy ended up swimming a fantastic prelim in this event, qualifying 3rd for the finals. Unfortunately, just like 2022, he slipped on the start in finals and found himself way behind the field early. He was able to make up ground on most of the field by the end of the first 50 (mostly due to extremely strong turns). However, the top 3 were all at least a second ahead, and Billy was unable to real them in. He did manage to finish 4th - and with the slip start, that's a heck of an effort. Nate had another good effort, like the 100 back he made the B final and he finished 12th overall.

200 Breast - This was an extremely odd event. This is the first time in Bear's 3 years at conference where an event was so poorly fielded, even including the Covid year when Sewanee didn't even show up. In this event, there were only 12 competitors - TOTAL. The spring Free and Fly races are super deep and overrun with talent, where the breast and back fields are pretty pedestrian, and the 200 fly was also underrepresented. Ryan was the top performer for Berry, coming in 4th again. (Ryan has been so close to medaling the last couple of years, I hope he get's one next year). Mac continued his strong freshman season with a 6th place finish, and Andrew finished 11th to round out the scoring for Berry.

200 Fly - This was the event that I hoped Bear would slid into this season. I was hoping he might be able to just swim the 100s until a few weeks before taper, then ramp up the distance so he could race this event. I really felt with him training fly sprint, that if he could get the endurance up a bit to race this one, he could medal. Berry only had 1 swimmer in this event - Billy, who elected to double up, swimming the 200 back and 200 fly on the same day. He made A finals in the event, and he ended up 8th overall. He really struggled down the stretch, and that could easily be attributed to his workload. The last swim in the last day - his 4th 200 yard swim, seemed to take its toll. If you're wondering, Bear's personal best would have put him in a group of 3 swimmers battling for 3rd.


Bear

100 Free (Seed - 49.44 : PB - 49:29) - Bear came into this event seeded 19th. In the previews, I noted that Bear was likely going to need to get a personal best to make it back to finals and that I was hoping he'd get down in the 48 second range. After seeing the field and entry times for swimmers, it looked like getting into the 48 second range was more a requirement to return. As it turns out Bear did get a personal best - but he also didn't brake the 49 second barrier - 49:05. Unfortunately, my fears were realized as his time placed him 17th in qualifying. The 16th place swimmer was his buddy Alex who went a 48.81 and was able to slip into finals. Alex ended up 17th in the 100 fly and missed finals, so missing here as well would have been heartbreaking. I just wish they had both been able to get in the top 16.

In finals, Noah was able to win the event posting a blistering 45.02 time. Harrison finished 7th with a 46.97. Paxton had another nice swim with a 48.36, good enough for 14th, and Alex jumped 1 spot to 15th with a 48.41.

400 Free Relay - With Sam absent from the relay due to the concussion there were 2 spots that needed to filled on the A team. 1 was Sam's spot the other was the difficult to determine 4th swimmer. As it turns out the team went with Ross, Paxton, Harrison, and Noah. Unfortunately, Ross opened with a 48.47 and Berry found itself in 5th place and only a fraction of a second ahead of 6th. As I mentioned before the depth for Milsap, Hendrix and Sewanee wasn't sufficient to compete in the relays, so there was no way they were going to stay in front of Berry for 4 legs. However, Berry was also unable to make up the gap on the top 3, setting for 4th overall.

In the B relay it was Bear, Ethan, Alex, and Ryan. Bear lead off and posted another personal best time of 48.74. This time would have been good enough to return in the 100 free if he had swum it in prelims. It's pretty cool that the very last swim Bear will ever do - ends up being a personal best. In fact, in his last 4 individual swims ever, 3 were personal bests. Ethan went second and he split 47.98. Next up was Alex, and he was unbelievable! Bear was 3rd at the end of his split, trailing Rhodes by 1 second and Charlie Fountain of BSC by 1.7 seconds. At the end of Ethan's 47.98 split, Berry was still in 3rd, Rhodes was up by .7, and BSC was in first about 1.5 seconds ahead. Alex split a 47.10!!! - Even with the maximum benefit of the .7 on a rolling start, that's still at worst a 47.8 swim. This moved Berry into second place only half a second behind Rhodes. BSC front loaded their relay and they fell way off the pace with their 3rd and 4th legs, and Centre put there 2 best in the back of their relay, but they were unable to reel in Berry for 2nd place. Ryan had no shot to reel in the Rhodes anchor, who posted a sub 47 second split, but he did enough to secure 2nd in the B final with a 48.26.

Last edited by Breeze : 02-20-2023 at 07:49 AM.
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Old 02-20-2023, 08:18 AM   #1515
Breeze
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SAA Conference Championship - RESULTS

Here are the top performers for the meet:

Code:
1 Bryan Sullivan Millsap 2 1 – 57 662.2 2 Noah Brand Berry 2 1 – 57 651.0 3 Daniel Snyder Rhodes 2 – 1 56 732.3 4 Arthur Bishop Rhodes 1 2 – 54 642.6 5 C. Fountain BSC 1 1 1 53 686.3 6 Kai Oddo Centre 1 1 1 53 645.7 7 Jakob Icimsoy BSC 1 1 – 52 670.3 8 Jack Whitten Rhodes 1 1 – 52 659.5 9 D. Niebauer Centre – 1 2 49 610.3 10 Graham Simmon BSC – 1 1 47 625.7 11 Aden Kraft BSC – 1 – 44 638.3 12 Ross Valdez Berry – – 1 44 657.8

And the best swims by performance:

Code:
1 Daniel Snyder Rhodes 2 – 1 56 732.3 2 L. Fountain BSC 1 1 1 53 686.3 3 A. Schwabe BSC – 1 – 38 672.7 4 Jakob Icimsoy BSC 1 1 – 52 670.3 5 Bryan Sullivan Millsap 2 1 – 57 662.2 6 Jack Whitten Rhodes 1 1 – 52 659.5 7 Ross Valdez Berry – – 1 44 657.8 8 Noah Brand Berry 2 1 – 57 651.0 9 Samuel Tate Berry 1 – – 35 649.7 10 Kai Oddo Centre 1 1 1 53 645.7


You may recognize several names from previous years, Sullivan, Brand,, Snider, Bishop, Fountain, but there were quite a few new names as well. So may that Ross ended up down at 12th.

Quite a few of the new swimmers were in the distance events. I believe this is because D1 schools only carry a handful of distance swimmers in any 4 year period due to their limited opportunities to score points and their lack of versatility. This leaves some quality swimmers with a tough decision - hang it up or go the small school route. Every year it appears the small school route is becoming more popular.

As for Bear - with him out of distance his swim scores put him in the middle of the pack, and seeing as he made 1 final his point total was low. His performance from previous years still compare nicely with these results. I'm so sorry he could never get his shoulders healthy. I'd have liked him to go out swimming his events 1 last time.

Last edited by Breeze : 02-20-2023 at 08:20 AM.
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Old 02-22-2023, 08:37 AM   #1516
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A bit of a scary situation last night. A couple of days ago, Bear called to tell us he was running a fever, had a sore throat, and a stiff neck. Well the stiff neck as part of the symptoms concerned us, so we told him to go to urgent care. He did and they told him he had strep and prescribed Amoxicillin. Last night he called again to let us know he was no better, in fact he was extremely chilled and his neck was stiffer than ever. Not wanting to mess around with what could potentially be Meningitis, we told him to go to the emergency room. I'm not sure he's still speaking with us - because he sat there for 6 and half hours. It turns out he has mono.

We all knew the neck stiffness could be unrelated to whatever illness he had. In fact, there was a good chance it was more of a result of not swimming anymore and the muscles not being heavily used. However, Meningitis is no joke, and we weren't about to take any chances.
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Old 02-24-2023, 03:48 PM   #1517
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Berry Update

You may recall from earlier posts that the new coach, Astrid, had to handle the team with season without an assistant coach. This was a major hurtle and I honestly believe one of the biggest contributors to the problems early in the season. As a quick recap - The Berry swim team would sign GAs on a 2 year cycle, and the GA that they signed in 2021 wasn't brought back after the first year. This left the team in an awkward situation. They were off schedule and finding someone to come in on a 1 year agreement wasn't enticing to potential replacements (not sure why they didn't just start another 2 year window, but apparently that wasn't an option).

Now it appears that Berry is looking to bring on a full time assistant, and guess who was offered the job? Yep, Astrid approached Bear and told him that if he wanted the job it was his. He's intrigued, but he admits it would be odd. First, he would be a coach and not allowed to fraternize with his former teammates, and the hanging out with his buds is what he enjoyed most about swimming. Second, he's only looking to take a year off to study for the MCAT, and while coaching my provide a nice job to do that - it doesn't help his resume, and ultimately it doesn't help Berry if he quits the role after just 1 year.

He's not likely to take the job, but he's not shutting the door on it completely either.
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Old 03-02-2023, 09:09 AM   #1518
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Three Earn CSC Academic Award



MOUNT BERRY, Ga. - Three swimmers from Berry's men's swim and dive program earned academic recognition for their work in the classroom as Billy Blood, Ross Valdez, and Bear Breeze each earned Academic All-District honors from College Sports Communicators (formerly College Sports Information Directors of America). The awards were announced Tuesday afternoon.

In order to earn Academic All-District honors, student-athletes must have a cumulative Grade Point Average of 3.5. In years past, there has also been a true athletic component to the equation; while that component is much more limited than it may have been previously, all still have achieved success in the pool as well.

Valdez achieved an NCAA "B" cut for his time in the 1650 Yard Freestyle at the Southern Athletic Association Championships last month. He was also an SAA Swimmer of the Week during the 2022-23 season. Blood was part of the relay team that set a new SAA Championship record in the 200 Yard Medley Relay. The winning time of 1:30.38 was just .01 away from an NCAA "B" cut time. Breeze was part of Berry's 200 Yard Freestyle Relay team which placed third at the SAA Championships in 2023.

The trio moves on to the national ballot for potential Acadmic All-America status.

Last edited by Breeze : 03-02-2023 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 03-02-2023, 09:30 AM   #1519
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Three Earn CSC Academic Award - Follow Up

Just a quick follow up to provide some perspective to the post above. Ross, Billy and Bear are 3 of the 4 male swimmers in the SAA to receive this award. Out of the other 6 teams in the conference, only 1 additional swimmer was recognized.

Last edited by Breeze : 03-02-2023 at 10:26 AM.
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Old 03-04-2023, 05:50 PM   #1520
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Congrats Bear, that's excellent stuff.

(I'd have said so sooner but I try to let the thread show you as the last poster for a while when I can manage to restrain myself )
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Old 03-05-2023, 08:57 AM   #1521
Breeze
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Thanks Jon. Probably only a few more posts. Team banquet and graduation. Then an occasional update on what the kids are up to. Unless he takes the assistant coaching job
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