The Massachusetts swimming and diving teams are preparing for their biggest challenge of the season thus far; a road trip to Boston University for the Terrier Invitational Tournament. The preliminaries for the tournament begin Friday Nov. 19 at Competition Pool and run until the finals of the tournament are concluded on Sunday night.
The Terrier Invitational is unlike any of the dual meets that the swimming program has participated in this season. The four previous meets that the Minutemen and Minutewomen have taken part in have pitted one team against another, but that is not the case this weekend.
Instead of two teams going head to head, there will be multiple teams taking part in 20 events in which the men and women will alternate pool time. The tournament will host Boston College, New Hampshire, Northeastern, Central Connecticut, Drexel, Holy Cross, Yale and UMass. The tournament also differs from the standard dual meets because there is no diving involved, it is solely swimming.
UMass coach Russ Yarworth is entering his 32nd year as head coach of the program, and is no stranger to the formats for tournaments. Yarworth recognized that to have the kind of winning tradition that UMass carries, the teams must use past success as motivation for the incoming swimmers to win championships.
“Swimming for the tradition of the school and the alumni has become a self perpetuating system because all the swimmers want to win that title,” Yarworth said.
This self perpetuating system has allowed both the Minutemen and Minutewomen to have great success in the past at the Terrier Invitational. Over the last four years, the lowest the team has placed is fourth and the men’s squad has won the tournament three times in those four years.
This year, UMass has a tough schedule, but that is not deterring it from putting forth full effort to establish itself as the so-called team to beat in the Atlantic 10.
“This may well be one of our toughest years as a team, but my kids are scrappers that give me 100 percent every day; they are a great group,” Yarworth said.
Danielle Grobmyer, a Charlottesville Va. native and third year assistant coach of the UMass women’s team explained not only how the style of the meet changes at a tournament, but how the preparation does as well.
In a regular week, the swimming and diving programs at UMass go through two grueling practices a day in which 100 percent effort is given at all times. After these intense practices all week, the teams have a meet on the weekend and are back in the pool practicing by that following Monday. Since this tournament is the biggest test of the year, besides the A-10 tournament, the swimmers are granted a little extra rest so they can perform at the best of their abilities.
“There are really big expectations for this meet and I think all the swimmers are aware of that,” Grobmyer said.
Head coach for the Minutewomen, Bob Newcomb, is aware that this tournament is extremely important because of the way it allows the swimmers and the coaches to prepare for the A-10 tournament at the end of the season.
“It is a rehearsal for the A-10s, that’s what it is,” Newcomb said. “It is about seeing how the swimmers are warming up, warming down, eating and how they perform under these conditions.”
The format of the Terrier Invitational is so similar to that of the A-10s that the preparations being taken now will help the teams correctly prepare for the conference tournament come the end of the season.
As important as winning this tournament may be, both head coaches stressed the fact that regardless of the standings at the end of the year, it will all come down to how the swimmers and divers perform at the A-10s.
“My purpose is to put these kids into events and see them swim in order to fully prepare them for the A-10 tournament,” Yarworth said.
Nicholas Bellofatto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.