South Dakota State freshman Olivia Olesiak's championship experience at the 2013 Summit League Swimming & Diving Championships:
As a freshman, I had no idea what to expect from my Summit League Championship meet and I can honestly say that I am better off with the experience both as an athlete and a student. It all began on one of the coldest days of the year (in my opinion) February 19th, I honestly thought my ears were going to get frostbite on the walk from the HYPR to the PAC lot. After a quick practice the team loaded up the bus and we set out on our two-day, 16 hour bus ride to Rochester, Mich. It wasn’t long before the ride had everyone dozed off. After about six hours, we stopped in the little town of Stewartville, Minn., for Subway and a bathroom break. We had great luck with the one unisex bathroom in the back of the store and 20 minutes later we were back on the road. The long day continued and after another short stop we trudged into the Hyatt Place hotel for a good night’s rest.
The next morning we set out for another long day on the road. After a lunch break and an unexpected gas stop we arrived at Hyatt Place hotel, again. With about half an hour to recuperate and freshen up we found ourselves back on the bus all too soon and set off to the pool for practice and the first night of prelims. There were five other teams we competed against consisting of USD, IUPUI, UNO, OU and WIU. After the 200 medley relay and the 800 free relay we headed back to the hotel for dinner and bed.
The rest of the week went by pretty fast. We all fell into a routine. The swimmers would get up around 7:30 a.m. to eat and be to the pool by 9 a.m. to warm up and start prelims. Divers would wake up around 9:30 a.m. to eat and be at the pool by 11 a.m. Once swimming prelims were done the swimmers would go out to eat lunch, normally at the mall food court. As they were eating, the divers would be warming up and competing in prelims. The bus would then drop the divers back at the hotel and pick up the swimmers so they could go back to the pool and warm up for finals. Needless to say, the coaches didn’t get much down time. Divers would return to the pool around 6 p.m. when the meet started and compete around 8 p.m. The meet would wrap up around 9:30-10 p.m. and the whole team would be shuttled along to grab some food and then to bed. One night we had a wonderful buffet of mac and cheese, pasta, fruit, veggies, dinner roles and cookies for dessert, all served by the parents. Other nights we would just order pizza.
On Saturday, we had our final day of competition. The energy in the pool was buzzing. Everyone competing knew it was their last chance to achieve the goals they had been working toward all year. After some great races and dives it was time for the final award ceremonies. Our team ended up in fourth place by a close 36 points, and just like that the season was over. It was time to spend one last night sleeping in a bed until we had to pack up the next morning and load the bus for our 16-hour bus ride back home.
Overall, this meet was a great team bonding experience. A big thank you goes out to everyone involved in helping our team compete, our coaches, the parents, other Summit League competitors, our athletic trainer and of course the bus drivers.