'Special' bond brings joy to Andover swimmers

  • Article by: DAVID LA VAQUE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 8, 2013 - 5:31 PM

Andover’s swimming and diving team, once beset with indifference, has jelled into a fun bunch.

hide

Andover’s Bella Smits dived into the pool at the start of the 200 freestyle in a meet Thursday against Blaine. Smits has the team’s best times in nearly every event.

Photo: Photos by JEFF WHEELER • jeff.wheeler@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

Andover’s Christina Spanier counts swimming as one of her passions. Anything less and she might not have stuck around for her senior year.

“In past years there were times halfway through the season where I was sick of it and ready to be done,” Spanier said.

Team division. An indifference to commitment. A lack of success. Andover was not a place where swimming and diving thrived in recent seasons.

This year, however, there is “something special in the pool,” coach Marcia Ford said.

Swimmers can feel it, too.

“We’ve bonded more than any other year,” said Spanier, one of the Huskies’ four captains. “The girls are enjoying themselves a lot more.”

Ford brought in a team-building specialist for a one-day workshop and the Huskies’ swimmers and divers put the lessons in motion. Focusing on unity helped unlock individual talents. Andover’s solid dual meet record includes victories against Anoka, Cambridge-Isanti, Champlin Park and Coon Rapids. More important, Spanier said, “no race goes uncheered for.”

Success in and out of the pool, Ford said, defines the team mantra: “Take it to the next level.”

Ford, who started coaching in 1979 and has directed swimmers at the club, high school and collegiate levels, said she preferred working with males rather than females “because there is less drama.” Andover was no exception last season.

“We had a lot of conflicts,” Ford said. “We had girls missing practices or meets.”

To remedy the culture, Ford tried the team building-specialist — a new approach in her work as a coach — to work with the girls.

“We did activities like trying to jump over a really long rope in unison,” Spanier said.

The girls took other suggestions to heart and created a poster for the locker room identifying team goals such as placing first or second in sections and getting all three relay teams to the state meet. Taped around the poster are index cards with girls’ individual goals. In addition, the team holds celebrations after each meet to recognize everything from races won to improved times to fundamental improvements. The girls serenade each accomplishment with noisemakers. The good vibes have been contagious.

“I’ve been on the team six years and I’ve never had so much fun,” said Catrina Linehan, another senior captain. “In past years we focused on ourselves, but now we’re a team that supports each other so much.”

The team is mix of talent and tenacity. Three of Ford’s captains — Spanier, Linehan and Kaylie Bednarczyk — lead by example in the pool. Spanier is a consistent performer in the 100-yard butterfly and 200 individual medley and freestyle events. Linehan is a coachable swimmer who provides points in the 500 freestyle, 100 backstroke and butterfly. Bednarczyk can be counted on for extra points in myriad events.

Freshman Bella Smits holds team-best times in almost every event. Junior Ciarah Thoreson is a ferocious competitor in the 50 and 100 freestyle races “who has won several times by touch-outs because she comes on so strong at the end,” Ford said. Camille Madsen stands out in the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM. Her best time this season in the latter event is already faster than her section time from last fall. Jenna Frank and Allyson Lidtke have made improvements in the 100 backstroke.

Diver Kayla DeGree, also a captain, has helped lead a group of young divers who in turn are pushing her to better scores.

  • related content

  • Andover teammates shouted encouragement to the members of their 400-yard freestyle relay team as the team swam to a first-place finish with a time of 3:46:50 against Blaine.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - J. Vargas 7:07 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 3:00 PM
San Jose
Boston 6:00 PM
Toronto
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Montreal
New Jersey 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Dallas 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Detroit 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Chicago 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Nashville
Tampa Bay 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Florida 8:00 PM
Arizona
Washington 9:00 PM
Calgary
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
UAB 17 FINAL
Arkansas 45
Rutgers 24 FINAL
(16) Nebraska 42
Maryland 7 FINAL
Wisconsin 52
Texas 0 FINAL
(11) Kansas State 23
Memphis 48 FINAL
SMU 10
North Texas 21 4th Qtr 5:20
Rice 34
Minnesota 24 4th Qtr 0:11
Illinois 28
North Carolina 21 4th Qtr 11:27
Virginia 27
San Jose St 17 3rd Qtr 6:45
Navy 24
Northern Ill 14 4th Qtr
Eastern Mich 10
(25) UCLA 17 2nd Qtr 6:12
Colorado 6
Akron 21 2nd Qtr 2:35
Ball State 6
Massachusetts 20 2nd Qtr 3:03
Toledo 14
Ohio U 7 2nd Qtr 4:45
Western Mich 21
Ga Southern 27 2nd Qtr 6:12
Georgia State 17
Kent State 0 2nd Qtr 15:00
Miami-Ohio 7
Oregon State 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(18) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Texas State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
(20) USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(5) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(1) Miss State
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(6) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(7) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(15) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(19) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(14) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Los Angeles 0 1st Half 25:00
Seattle 0
D.C. 3:00 PM
Montreal
Toronto FC 6:30 PM
New England
Portland 7:30 PM
FC Dallas
Colorado 9:00 PM
Vancouver FC
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who wins and loses in football this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close