March 03, 2014

My Championship Experience – 2014 Women’s Swimming and Diving Edition

My Championship Experience is a diary blog written by Summit League student-athletes detailing their experiences at each of the 19 Championships.

South Dakota State junior Lexi Laird writes about her experience at the 2014 Summit League Swimming and Diving Championships:

As I began my third Summit League Championship, I not only felt prepared but with the championship being held at IUPUI, I felt I had the “home court advantage”. Thankfully Indianapolis was warming up from the sub-zero temperatures we had earlier that month. I had two exams the day before our championship, but I had made sure I was mentally ready to race the next evening.

Wednesday night finals began at 6 p.m. and I would be swimming the backstroke leg of the 200 medley relay. Before the relay that night, I was less nervous than usual, maybe because I was in my home pool, but I was unsure if this was a good or bad thing. We began the walkout for the 200 medley relay and the natatorium filled with a roar of cheering teams, family and friends. At that moment, I finally believed it was Summit League Championships, what I had trained all year for had come so fast and I had never realized it. Being a junior, the league championships had been held at the same site the past two years so this was a new atmosphere for not only the freshmen and sophomores but for myself. When I swam the 1st leg of the 200 medley relay, I put us in second with a time that was a personal best but was not satisfactory to me. My teammates on the relay put together some amazing splits and we ended up placing second in the 200 medley relay and nearly broke our record set last year by 0.35 seconds.  Our 800 freestyle relay that night swam phenomenally and broke our school record by more than four seconds. The energy from that night is what brought us into the next day with confidence.

On the second day the ladies came in strong and put together some great swims all around. Jenny Oleksiak and I swam times that placed us second in our third best events, which came to us in much surprise. The 200 freestyle relay came out with energy and confidence, and because of this we broke a record that hadn’t been broken since my freshman year. Due to these and other strong swims, we put ourselves good position to place well in the whole conference.

On the third and fourth day we had amazing swims as we did on Wednesday and Thursday, but we lost second place behind Denver. Maranda Buha had come off a serious surgery and several months out of the pool and dropped a second off her personal best time from high school. Her perseverance through this inspired me in so many ways. She was not the only lady that fully amazed me through their determination and I admire all the Lady Jaguars for that. Throughout this year, we have created an amazing support system that I have not yet seen in my three years here at IUPUI and I’m excited to see it grow into something bigger than ourselves.

I had amazing swims, like my 50, which I dropped a half second and placed second and disappointing swims, but throughout everything my teammates supported me. As I finished the championship and reflected back, I was slightly disappointed about things. I think that never being satisfied is not only a great characteristic in myself, but in all of the IUPUI ladies. The Lady Jaguars put together a great performance this year at the league meet and I am so proud of each and every one of them. We, unfortunately, fell to South Dakota State and Denver, but we plan to come back next year stronger and larger in numbers.

Don’t forget to check out the next edition of My Championship Experience as it follows the Indoor Track & Field Championships, Feb. 28-March 1 and throughout the 2013-14 season for coverage at each of The Summit League Championships.

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