'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.

Team-building only works when team members are willing to work at it, and Ford called her captains “the best leadership I’ve had in my coaching career.”

“Honestly I didn’t see them pulling together the way they have,” Ford said. “What they’ve accomplished is a team effort.”

  • 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

Cleveland - WP: C. Allen 4 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: G. Holland 3
Baltimore 0 Top 1st Inning
NY Yankees 0
Kansas City - D. Duffy 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Carrasco
Seattle 0 Top 1st Inning
Toronto 0
Chicago WSox 0 Top 1st Inning
Detroit 0
Pittsburgh - F. Liriano 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Houston - N. Tropeano 7:05 PM
Texas - D. Holland
St. Louis - A. Wainwright 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
Arizona - J. Collmenter 7:10 PM
Minnesota - R. Nolasco
LA Angels - C. Wilson 9:05 PM
Oakland - J. Samardzija
San Francisco - J. Peavy 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - D. Haren
Colorado - T. Matzek 9:10 PM
San Diego - E. Stults
Chicago 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Ottawa 2 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Ottawa 5:00 PM
NY Islanders
New Jersey 0 1st Prd 19:17
NY Rangers 0
Detroit 0 1st Prd 19:47
Pittsburgh 0
Toronto 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Washington 0 1st Prd 19:20
Philadelphia 0
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
St. Louis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Anaheim 8:00 PM
Colorado
Colorado 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Arizona
Arizona 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Time left for great deals

Bid thru Sept. 29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close