Ready to Carry on the Legacy

As a first year member of the team, there is no way you can truly prepare for a winter training trip.  You can train over winter break. You can listen to the upper class swimmers tell horror stories as they try to scare you with anticipation. No matter what you do, it will pale in comparison to the reality of being in the middle of a hard set.

You will swim harder than you ever thought possible. You will bond with your teammates and grow closer with the people who someday may be in your wedding and will certainly be there for years to come. You will have the most fun while your coach pushes you past your breaking point. You will hate the process, but the reward will be worthwhile when you realize that your training  could lead you to a  win  or a personal best time at champs. 

While you may dread the week of intense two-a-day practices, you will be sad when it is time to leave. Keep in mind you are going to look back at all the memories you have just made and wish training trip could last forever. Reality will set in; time to go back to school and homework. Only a handful of weeks will remain in the season before you head to the conference championships where your training will be tested. Trust in the process; you will be ready. You will have experienced the mental and physical preparation needed for your best races. You will not back down because you stayed strong in training. 

I am so grateful for my first training trip and look forward to the next three! While some had their first, seniors had their last and as a first year swimmer, I am ready to continue the legacy of testing the limits while making lasting memories. 

Dharma Kear

Class of ’21


Thank Goodness for VANS

This is my first training trip with SBC swimming. I was anxious and terrified in the beginning because I had no clue what to expect. I remember my teammates talking about how challenging the workouts were going to be along with the 2.8 mile run to the  to the pool :(. I’m not the running type so personally I was more frighten by the running than the actual swimming).On our first run,  I made sure I left an hour before anyone else. The run was actually enjoyable despite the fact that I forgot to bring true running  shoes on the trip, and had to run in my VANS. I’m extremely grateful for my classic VANS; they helped me make it through the run minus the couple of falls I took in them. Next year, I will totally remember to bring the correct shoes. Overall, this has been a great experience with the team. We have grown as a team, and I can’t wait until next year.

Lauren Graham

Class of ’21

Calm in the Storm

Last night, as we worked through one of our final practices, a huge rainstorm fell over the pool; typical of our week. We collectively struggled through the storm and one of the hardest sets of the week, trying our hardest to keep the energy and lift our teammates through the set. With the struggles of muscle pain, low energy and fatigue from a long week of workouts, we all worked hard to push through.  Suddenly, as we wrapped up the set, the sky cleared and a beautiful rainbow appeared.

The rain to rainbow instance is the perfect metaphor for the week. The whole week, was a whirlwind of chaos, in and out of the pool, teaching our bodies to perform twice as much as we are used to, keeping a positive attitude to help uplift team members and learning the value of free time for naps, and self care (and maybe a little tanning too). These moments represent the storm. At week’s end, the rainbow appears. I realize I have never felt so close to my teammates. We have bonded with one another, over beach time, Starbucks runs, countless car rides to and from the pool, card games when we have been too tired to sleep and getting ready for dinners with our amazing alumnae. We also have grown to love the support of one another as we have put our bodies through the ringer for the sport that we love.

As the long week of challenges i.e. –   hards runs, hot yoga and countless meters in the pool, comes to an end, it is safe to say that not only have we improved as swimmers, but we have grown closer as team. I am excited to see how our new found love for one another, as well as the hard work will show at our last few meets, and culminate in our championship meet. I am so thankful for this opportunity to work hard and bond with my teammates/friends, as it gives me even more reason to love Sweet Briar Swimming!

Sarah Ahson

Class of ’21

Training Trip 101

This is my third training trip with Sweet Briar Swimming, so as a veteran, I feel that I can assure anyone who is preparing to go on a training trip for the first time or any time can learn from these three tips:
1. Stay Positive
This may seem cliche, but staying positive is so important for your mental and physical health. When you are positive, your whole perspective is different. When you decided to set your mind to making an interval or finishing up a set strong, your positive mindset helps you accomplish your goals and exceed your expectations.

​ It also helps to have a positive growth mindset. You are here to get better and train hard without having to worry about classes. Try to complain less and emphasize a whole team of positive attitudes. This is your time to focus, just you and pool, so make the most of it. ​
2. Bring Sunscreen and Stretch
Your body is going to be tired from the 2-a-day practices and the cardio and core that you will be doing while on training trip. The last thing you want is to have to deal with the pain of a sun burnt face or back. Being sore is painful enough, but having to peel dead skin off of your face isn’t going to be fun. Make sure to put on your sunscreen before heading over to the pool, so about 15 minutes before hand, so that it can sink in. Also, make sure you are stretching before and after practices. It is very important to stay loose. You should do everything that you can to make your body stay physically healthy.

​As much as training trip is about training, make sure you make time to bond with your team and have fun. Take the trolley or walk down to the beach, go window shopping downtown where ever you are staying, or play a game of cards in your hotel room. ​Whatever activity you choose, keep an open mind, stay positive, and enjoy your time with your teammates. You are all preparing for the rest of the season and before you know it, it will all be over. You won’t remember the sets you swam 10 years from now, but what you will remember is the relationship with your team and creating life-long friendships.
I hope that after reading these tips, you will be ready to venture into a week that will be a rewarding and a memorable experience to remember for the ages.
-Caroline Thomas ’19
Sweet Briar Swimming

The Veteran Approach to Training Trip

What’s the hardest part of swimming? Definitely, hands down, without hesitation: it’s getting in. Jumping in a cold pool in the early hours of the morning even stops veteran Olympians in their tracks. The anxiety of the water temperature and the work outs to come prey on the minds of every swimmer. As we start our 2018 training trip, it is impossible to not think of the upcoming week with trepidation.

Last week, I met a new friend who, when he found out I was a collegiate swimmer, told me that he had never met a swimmer who wasn’t a little insane. I couldn’t be upset because I knew he was right. I also couldn’t help thinking of the cliche and misattributed quotation of Einstein, who supposedly said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And what do swimmers do? Spend hours and hours swimming back and forth in a pool, staring at a black line, hoping that it will change our results.

But training trip is different than the rest of season somehow. More surreal. Time seems out of whack and the week flies by filled with laughing teammates, countless showers, morning runs, the amount of food consumed that would put a football team to shame, and seemingly-impossible sets. Training trip is stressful but it’s also incredibly fun. Without the stress of school work, everyone can focus on their personal season goals and grow closer as a team. Together, we overcome the seemingly-impossible sets and get coffee together and take naps together and binge watch shows and take trips to the beach. So, while there is lots of nervousness surrounding training trip, I still look forward to this week.

 by Claire Zak ’18

The Grind

By: First Year Bri Garcia

After returning back to Sweet Briar from Florida we all realized that training did not end… At all. The grueling two a day practices continued now coupled with crossfit style workouts. As a first year, returning back to Sweet Briar a week before classes started and being pretty much the only people on campus was fun! Having the whole team in one building meant we could bond over team meals and practically spend all day together-oh joy! From setting the fire alarm off when cooking to McDonald sweet tea runs winter training truly brings a team together. Even though it’s hard and pushes you past your limits it’s worth it in the end. Go Team!


Making Connections


By Brooke “Pinkerton” Burnett – class of 2020

There are many things that are ‘sweet’ about Sweet Briar: community, academics, and teamwork, just to name a few. They all seem to pale in comparison to the reach of the “Pink Bubble” for which Sweet Briar is known. On campus, the Pink Bubble is the safety of the Sweet Briar community, the school, where everything is seen through literal rose colored glasses. The ‘real’ world’s Pink Bubble is better known by another more common title: Alumnae. Any Sweet Briar woman knows that when she is with an alumna, the Pink Bubble of home returns and just for a little while ,it’s like being back in front of the Bell Tower or lounging by lower lake. Sweet Briar women carry a little piece of home with them wherever they travel.
As a first year at Sweet Briar, I came in knowing that the alumnae saved the school, that through their hard work and their dedication I could come and experience the Pink Bubble first hand. I knew about the ‘Adopt-a-Vixen’ program, and I knew that the alums had been out there just waiting for us. My interaction with the alumnae spanned quite a long time before I even set foot on Campus.
One cold blustery, winter day, I received a phone call, out of the blue. At first, I missed the call, but I immediately returned it, Starbucks in hand and ready to listen. “Hello?”, I said tentatively, really not sure who was calling. What blossomed was a two-hour conversation with an alumna from D.C.. She told me of her life, her travels, how she ended up teaching in Japan to now running her own company. I was so enthused about my future after that conversation. It was all about being empowered and that was the first time I heard the bubble grow around me.  I think that conversation alone is what set Sweet Briar above all other schools I had applied to. After growing up thinking I was just another number to be processed through an education system, I was finally Amelia Brooke Burnett. Finally, I could see a future where I would be happy. It all came down to something as simple as a phone call. It changed my world.
The world I reside in now is one of pink and green, and everyday I experience the strength of the alumnae. Nowhere else in the world compares to the relationship with the women I get to experience every day here on campus and when I venture beyond the campus.
One such example was the recent trip to Florida with my team. As I embarked on my first training trip with the Sweet Briar Swim team, I was scared of the miles we’d run and the laps we’d swim. But, I knew I was there with my team and all would be well as long as we did it together. And we did, we spent everyday for six days, training twice a day in a long course pool and pulling muscles and building each other up. But, when we weren’t in the pool, we were relaxing, shopping, exploring, and connecting.
We had dinner with one Alumna, Kari, she has the brightest smile in the world, and the biggest heart I think one woman could handle ( Though, I think all the Alums are like fairies of love and happiness )  along with the magnificent and very funny Monika ( who makes a marzipan pie that is to die for)  the younger students ( us ) were regaled with stories of the past and the Pinkertons, known to the current students as Campo. The team made a pseudo-pact that we would bring the old name to light again! It was just amazing learning about the past. When you have the opportunity to interact with ladies like these it just feels like your uncovering a history that isn’t written down; it is some kind of folk-tale passed down from generation to generation and now you’re the keeper. It’s almost magical how important these little details become in shaping your world view. Without a doubt it makes you want to preserve the Bubble and just keep it dear in your heart.
On our ONE afternoon off, the underclass-women went walking around downtown, looking and shopping in every store we considered ‘preppy’. There was one store in particular, Snappy Turtle, that had caught our eye because of the pink and green display in the window. Of course, being the girls that we are, we had to explore. Upon entry, we were immediately met with questions about our school and met two women who were very close with some alumna. One was from MICHIGAN.  The Alumna always always always take care of us. At another Alumna dinner, with Cynthia Ottaway, class of 1957,  we were treated like queens with a lovely dinner. The girls on my team had discussed coming back to Delray Beach for spring break. Upon mentioning our plans, we were immediately invited to have lunch at the Ocean Club with Cynthia. We were thrilled to return to share more time and stories!
Our alumnae do so much for us and we just love them right back. I hope to one day be as gracious and giving as they have been to us!

Have Mercy on Me

By first year swimmer, Mikia Hundley (Class of 2019)

As finals week finally came to an end, I was ecstatic to go home for winter break. I was looking forward to sleeping in later, movie nights with my mom, and having lazy mornings in bed with my dogs. I wanted to go home, but I wasn’t ready. Simultaneously, I was excited to go home, but dreading being away from school.  I wasn’t ready to leave my team. The girls on the team are more than team-mates, more than friends; they are family. I practically spend all day with them. From morning practice, to class, to lunch, back to class, then back to practice, dinner, and studying in the library together to finish the day. Grabbing the rare moment of free time;  it is not uncommon to walk into my room to find two or three of my team-mates lying in bed with my dog watching a movie. Cody Jo, my goofy cocker spaniel and emotional support animal, has become another ‘member’ of the team. I share my life with them and I couldn’t imagine spending a month without them.

When the day finally arrived to leave Sweet Briar and go back to my sunny home of Augusta, Georgia, I packed up my car and headed off with another swimmer, Brianna Garcia. We laughed and sang a little too loudly on the drive to the airport. The airport that Bri flew out of is about half way between my house and campus. She normally road trips with me. I gave her a hug goodbye and watched her walk through the sliding doors. That was it; we were all going our own way for a few weeks. I drove the rest of the way home with my puppy asleep in my lap.

Once home, I got comfortable. Snapchat and FaceTime kept us all up-to-date and feeling like a part of each other’s everyday lives. I began to enjoy sleeping in a bit too much and the thought of waking up early for morning practice everyday made me want to cry a little. The days of Netflix and lounging came to an end on January 5th.

On my first flight to Florida, I worried a lot. I worried about if I had prepared enough over winter break. Worried if I could run the 2.8 miles to the pool every morning and make it there on time for practice. I knew the workouts were going to be intense but I didn’t know how intense. Would training trip be the death of me?  I would find out shortly.

The first team member I was reunited with was Taylor Allen. We planned our flights accordingly so that we would be on the same flight to Ft. Lauderdale. We even took it a step farther by booking seats next to each other. Being with Taylor made me feel like I was at home again, my heart was a little more full, and I felt a little more complete. I couldn’t wait to see the rest of the girls. I also was really looking forward to seeing my coach again. Donna has also become family. She’s like a second mom  to me. She guides not only me, but the rest of the team, through swimming, academics, and even personal problems from time to time. She’s our rock that we can count on. She might try to kill me in the pool but she supports me outside of it.

Training trip started with a lot of loooonggg sets. The first day we ran three miles and swam almost five. It was a lot of exercising!  My body hurt. During the fly intervals, I actually started planning my funeral. Who would get Cody? My favorite pair of pearls? Thoughts like these filled my mind between kicks. The practices were long and hard but we got through it together. Our team bond strengthening with each challenging set.

As I sit in the Atlanta airport writing this blog, I’m sad we are leaving Florida behind. The fears I once had were unfounded. Donna knows us better than we know ourselves. She gives us challenging workouts but she tailors it for each individual, pushing each of us right up to our own specific limit; always encouraging and knowing we can handle the challenge. We are leaving behind the warm sunny days of Florida, but we are returning to Sweet Briar a closer unit than when we left. We are bringing back tans, freckles, and more muscles. Mostly we are bringing back CONFIDENCE! Walking through the snow to practice twice a day is not something any of us are excited about in the coming weeks. However, we are all feeling ready for our conference championship and ready to embrace the remaining challenges the season has to offer.

img_9522-1Training trip was a success. I can honestly say that I am looking forward to the next training trip and sharing it with a whole new group of first year swimmers.


By sophomore, Caroline Thomas

Today was marvelous! It was because of our hard work and Coach’s love that we got to sleep in a little later today before practice. This was a recovery day, after swimming only 1.62 miles, which is equivalent to about 6.48 running miles, we got the afternoon off! We started the fun by traveling to Peanut Island. First year, Brooke and I, were the only ones brave enough to immerse ourselves into the chilly ocean but shortly into our, “fun in the sun”,  it started to rain and thus our beach day ended. Freezing from the wind and drizzle,  we all decided to head back to the hotel. From there, the first-years and I, along with our pal Keifer, from the Hampden-Sydney swim team, decided to take the free trolley into downtown Delray. We did a little shopping and walking. We made it all the way down to the beach and took a couple of cute pictures. The trolley picked us back up and took us to the hotel.  A wonderful home cooked dinner and birthday cupcakes were provided by Claire Zak’s family. An absolutely wonderful  way to celebrate Claire’s birthday! Now it’s time for some Galavant and rest to gear up for the double practice tomorrow!

Count Your Blessings…..

By soon to be 21 year old, junior, co-captain, Claire Zak

Even though this is my third training trip, I began to have anxiety in the days leading up to the start. I found myself wanting to stay with my family longer, cuddling with my puppy, drinking coffee with my sisters in the morning, eating my mom’s awesome cooking, listening to my dad’s corny jokes, and visiting with my grandparents who were staying with us during the holidays. I was nervous about who I was going to room with, I worried whether I had prepared enough for the challenging practices ahead, if I would get a terrible sunburn (because I am the palest Floridian alive), if we were going to have enough food, if I was going to get shin-splints during the 2.6 mile morning runs to the pool, if the hotel coffee would be acceptable enough to sustain my caffeine addiction, and lastly, if I would be able to emotionally support my teammates in my role as co-captain. But as much as I wished I could stay in winter break forever, the day of training trip arrived and I drove down to Delray Beach to meet my team.

Coach encouraged us to live in the moment during this training trip and I realized that she was right. All my worries seem silly now. Yes, my face is a little red but the weather is warm while the most of the country is covered in snow. Yes, I am sore because the practices are brutal, but that just means I am working hard. And I should have never been worried about rooming because all of my teammates are awesome and supportive. Of course we have enough food because our awesome Florida alumnae worked so hard to feed us throughout the week.

Our team got another reminder to count our blessings because of the terrible shooting the other day at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport. One of my former and recently graduated teammates, Lydia, was supposed to fly down to assist Coach during training trip. Unfortunately, she got appendicitis the day before and was not able to make her flight because of her scheduled surgery. If she had made the flight, she would have been arriving in the exact same terminal at the exact same time of the shooting. We all agree that her appendicitis was a blessing in disguise.

I am trying my best to experience the present but I still have some anticipation for the future. Tomorrow is my birthday and it will be the driest 21st birthday in all of 21st-birthday-history but that’s fine. We will have the afternoon off and will be spending it exploring the near-by Peanut Island and snorkeling. And my family will bring dinner so I will get to see them and eat mom’s cooking once more before I go back to school. All in all, I think this training trip has been very successful and rewarding so far and I cannot wait to bond and achieve even more with my wonderful team around me.

Warmly, Claire