Winter Invites

This week, we have a double post! See below for perspectives from both the Texas and MIT Invitationals last weekend.

Sara Li on the Texas Invite:

Hello from snowy Cambridge! My name is Sara Li, also known as Sli, and I am a senior on the team and a sprint freestyler. Although half of our team spent the past week in Austin, Texas, the weather turned out to be colder than it was back at Harvard, and of course, the day we get back is the first real snowfall of the season. All of this is to explain why when we arrived in Texas, approximately 100% of the swimmers on other teams (Arizona, Penn State, Texas, USC, Wisconsin, UCLA, UCSB, and more) were tanner than we were.

Ultimately, it was not only the paleness of our skin that differentiated us from the rest of the swimmers on deck. Harvard is known for its academics, not its athletics. But when we walked on deck in our matching Lululemon warm ups and our crimson parkas, we looked good. We looked intimidating. Yes, Harvard is different, but we were different in a great way.

As Harvard student-athletes, we deal with a whole lot more stress than those other teams may deal with, but we are still top-level athletes. We swam well, with some impressive in-season swims and exciting relays. Though we were not quite where we want to be at the end of the season, we worked the little things: the starts, turns, breakouts, finishes. We made individual adjustments to our prelim races and came back strong at finals. And with every session, our team got closer. We cheered, we danced, and we stuck together more tightly and cohesively than any other team on deck. A meet like Texas inspires us to train harder, with swimmers who were busting out the top times in the country throughout the weekend. But it is also an opportunity to appreciate how impressive every single person is on HWSD, and remember how lucky we are to be on the same team as these incredible women.

Good luck to everyone during finals week. We can do it.

Love,

Sli

 

Maggie Chory on the MIT Invite:

Hi! It’s freshman Maggie Chory from Weston, MA and we are fresh off of our December rest meet, with some of the team going to the UT Invite in Austin, and the rest of us heading down Mass Ave to MIT for their annual invitational. This was the first time all season that we have been rested and wearing fast suits, and it was fun to see what we could do.

At MIT, despite being a small group we kept the energy up all weekend, cheering for each race and getting behind the lanes of our breaststrokers and flyers. Under the leadership of our great volunteer coach Kyle Cutter and her trusty assistants Taylor and Ana, we had some great swims, and really showed our competitive spirit in and out of the pool. Paige especially did her part to keep the Keene State men’s team from encroaching on our bleacher space.

It was also nice being so close to Harvard, as many of us had supportive friends and roommates able to come watch. Despite being less than half the size of most of the other teams, by the end of the meet, and with the help of our divers, we placed a solid second overall!

Now that the fun of the weekend is over, it is back to reality with final essays and exams taking up the next two weeks until we all go back home for a few days and then head off to Madrid! That is certainly enough motivation to get me through this final push.

-Maggie

Away at Dartmouth

Hello HWSD fans! Taylor Foster here with updates from our recent trip to Dartmouth this past weekend. I’m a senior swimmer hailing from Eden Prairie, Minnesota. There was a lot of excitement going into our tri-meet this weekend against Dartmouth and Cornell because any chance to compete always brings the team closer together. It was not only our first opportunity to travel altogether as a team, but also a chance to improve on our dives and races from last weekend at Columbia.  I noticed the whole week at practice there was a renewed energy on deck as that fire inside us all was reignited to continue training day-by-day towards our goals for the end of the season. That was the theme of the meet as we all tried to focus on the small things in our races and dives that still could be perfected.

HWSD finished up the weekend with two resounding wins, and also set five pool records along the way. It was really special to start to see our team come together at this point in the season and give a view of what a fun-filled and exhilarating year we are going to have. The freshman all have at least one meet under their belt now and are fully on board and ready to go. Now that the meet season is underway, next up we are gearing up for the Texas Invite and MIT Invite the week after Thanksgiving.

This meet was also a special time for the seniors because the last time we were at the Dartmouth pool was at our first dual meet of our careers freshman year. We were nostalgic as we took a photo in the same exact spot and realized how we have grown over the past three years. It’s at moments like this that we stop and realize how much Harvard Women’s Swimming and Diving comes to mean to us.

HWSDlove,

Taylor

Class of 2014 as seniors (2013)

Class of 2014 as freshmen (2010)

Not Without A Fight

Hello! It’s sophomore Marlee Ehrlich back in Cambridge after our meet against Columbia. This past weekend our team opened up the season in New York City. While the meet didn’t turn out the way we expected, it was still a great season opener and we were able to learn a lot about how our team works.

The first meet, especially first travel meet, is always really exciting. It’s our first chance to get up and race against new people, and it’s also our first chance to cheer on and support our teammates in a race setting. When we first arrived at our hotel in New York, everyone was excited. There was a strong feeling amongst the team that we were ready to race. The feeling was so strong that I had a hard time falling asleep that night because I was so excited. When we woke up the next morning, everyone had a big smile on her face.

Those smiles never faded. Throughout the meet our team continued to smile and dance and cheer each other on, even when winning was out of reach. Our team is a team of fighters; we won’t go down without a fight. We swam extremely fast, especially for where we are in the season; in fact, we set 6 pool records! Even though our fast swimming was impressive, what was more impressive was our team spirit and unity. I’m not quite sure what it is, but something about the start of the meet season always changes the team dynamic. We instantly become closer and more focused. That change was quite evident on the pool deck yesterday. Every single girl was up and cheering for her teammates in the water and that is what makes our team so special. No matter what the score is, we all want each other to succeed and swim fast. HWSD makes swimming a team sport instead of an individual sport.

After the meet, we had a pizza lunch with friends, family, and alum that came to watch our meet. Even with a loss fresh in our minds, every single girl had a big smile on her face. No matter what happens in the pool, we all know that we have the support of our friends, family, and most importantly each other to get through any setback we may encounter. With our first meet of the season behind us, we are looking forward to a great rest of the season. We swim Dartmouth and Cornell next weekend, and I know I’m excited to race again!

Go Crimson!

Gaining Momentum

This is Ashlee, a freshman all the way from Andover, Massachusetts. As a girl from a quiet town, I am loving the city life here in Cambridge! After a month of not being able to coach us, Steph and Chris are really excited to be directing practices again. While the workouts have become significantly more challenging, motivation from the other girls and the coaches makes them seem so much easier! On October 1, we got right down to business and started splitting up into different training groups; either sprint, mid-distance, distance, breast, or flack pack. The distance group trained with the men’s distance group one morning, which was a great challenge for us! Not only do we practice with the men’s team on Monday mornings, but on Friday afternoons as well, which makes for an intense sprint circuit practice. Some of us, especially us distance swimmers, have been spending a lot of time in the endless pool lately and it’s wicked (or hella if you’re not from New England) cool! We did our first team set on Saturday and it was probably one of the most memorable and challenging sets so far, and we rocked it. As for what’s going on across the river, midterms have started, which means lots of tests to take and essays to write for the next few weeks. Midterms seem to have brought the cold weather to campus as well, but the walk to the pool in the mornings isn’t too bad ever since the parkas arrived! We also got our new shorts, which means the next time we go to the weight room we’ll be the most fashionable team in our matching crimson shirts and black shorts and sneakers. I’m so excited to be a freshman on the HWSD team and I cannot wait for our meets to start!!!

Welcome Back!

Hello to all!! Junior (whoa) Steph Ferrell here, and WOW is it good to be back! While it’s normally pretty hard to describe the feeling of being reunited with your team, I’m finding it particularly challenging to describe it after being away in a foreign country (Peru) for most of the summer. I can’t explain how good it is to see everyone again – it made the terrible heat and big boxes that come with move in monumentally better, and made me so thankful to not just be back in America or at Harvard, but to be back on my HWSD team.

My favorite, dysfunctional Junior class -- can’t believe we are upperclassmen!

My favorite Junior class -- can’t believe we are upperclassmen!

While I was met with familiar HWSD faces as I came back to campus at the end of August, I found myself surrounded by some fresh HWSD faces as well…and by fresh I mean freshmen (punny, I know…I try)!! We are so excited to be practicing as a team now that captains’ practices have been in full swing for about a month and the official season lies less than two weeks away. We have had some great bonding with the freshmen: from sharing our most embarrassing stories at Harvard so far to watching Ashlee Korsberg climb a rope hanging off the 7 meter tower in maybe less than 30 seconds (as I dangled halfway up the rope remembering I was scared of heights for about 2 minutes…). They are truly a great group of girls and I cannot wait to experience this season with them.

Pretty froshies!!

Pretty froshies!!

Sophomore Kendall Crawford being the first one to tackle the rope challenge!

Sophomore Kendall Crawford being the first one to tackle the rope challenge!

Now that we are back at it in the pool, classroom (eek), weight room, AND yoga room, it feels like everything is how it’s supposed to be again — my hair reeks of chlorine, my brain hurts, my muscles ache, and my jaw still drops when Arturo demonstrates how he wants us to bend our bodies at 6:30 in the morning…and I love it. Oh, and I seem to have my in-season appetite back, too…for something more than that post-practice swimmer-hunger for extra carbs…

We’re ready for a great season, HERE WE GO HARVARD!

Big H

The Big H

HWSD!

HWSD!

 

 

Shalom from the Holy Land!

No, it’s not Marlee Ehrlich and no, I didn’t convert to Judaism (as someone actually asked me when I mentioned I was going to Israel), but this is Daniela Suarez and I am writing from the North of Israel where my family and I are spending our last two “cultural” days before relaxing on the beach in Tel Aviv and then going back home to the US. However, this summer was already off to an exciting start before we packed our bags and crossed the Atlantic to discover this new and amazing place.

For me, summer started the second I finished my last final at the end of May. Once the clock hit11:30am I ran out and was on a bus with DLee (or Danielle Lee), Margaret, and our 10 bags back to my home, New York City. We sat squished in between strangers, relieved to have finally finished the grueling misery that is the deadly move-out and finals combination. I was thrilled to have them stay at my house, especially since DLee had only been to New York once briefly, and I quickly showed them my side of the city as we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, ate Grimaldi’s pizza by the East River, went to the Metropolitan Museum, and the list goes on with the highlight being venturing 94 floors up the new Freedom Tower in the World Trade Center. Their stay was short-lived, but only two days later it was my turn to travel to Carmel, Indiana for the long-awaited “Indy 500″. Along with Marlee and Kendall, we grabbed our coolers, courtesy of Mrs. Ramsey, and spent the day on the racetrack among Midwesterners who await this day pretty much all year. It was definitely an experience I hope to repeat.

Yet, it was all over way too quickly and, before I knew it, I was back in New York, working at an art gallery as an intern and swimming with my home swim team, AGUA. Then about a month later I was back on the road, this time to the familiar Cambridge, MA, but I wasn’t as excited as usual as summer Organic Chemistry was about to start. And so began 7 weeks of long labs and weekly tests that were only made better by the time I spent with Taylor, Ana, and Paige, who were also in Cambridge for the summer. As miserable as it was to have to work so hard when everyone else was relaxing, I cannot even begin to describe the relief I felt at the end when I knew I would never have to take the course again.

And so, only a day after coming back home, my parents, younger sister, and I were on a plane to Tel Aviv, Israel, about to embark on a two week adventure in a region that many people, including myself at first, are scared away from thanks to the news. I was definitely pleasantly surprised. We began our trip in Jerusalem and I was immediately amazed by the amount of history (think thousands of years) in a single place. It’s not only the center for the Jewish religion as most people seem to think, but it brings together so many people of different cultures such as Muslims, Christians, and many more that I didn’t even know existed. We’ve been driving around Israel for the past week and a half, spending a morning in Palestinian territory to visit Bethlehem, floating in the Dead Sea, visiting the amazing ruins of Petra in Jordan (Indiana Jones, anyone?), riding around the Ramon Crater in a jeep, mountain biking, crossing through the desert on camels, and of course, having a man offer my dad a few camels in exchange for me or my sister (good deal, huh?). Furthermore, I’m writing this blogpost as we’ve just driven by the border with Lebanon on our way to Tiberias by the Sea of Galilee. I can definitely say this has been a unique and absolutely incredible family vacation, but I’m also unbelievably eager to get back home, and by home I mean Harvard with my fellow HWSDers.

Much love,
(Daniela) Suarez

Indy 500

Jerusalem market treats

Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

View of the Dead Sea from Masada

Petra ruins (and camels)

YALLA!

Well hey! It’s “I’m going to be a sophomore in the fall” (freshman forever) Marlee Ehrlich coming at you from New Jersey. I just got back to America from a three-week stay in Israel where I was competing for Team USA in the 19th World Maccabiah Games. The Maccabiah is a sporting event much like the Olympics, in which every 4 years athletes from all over the world come together to compete. However, unlike the Olympics the Maccabiah is always held in Israel, and all the athletes are Jewish. While my family hoped I would go to Israel and find “a nice Jewish boy” to bring home, I ended up finding an amazing team, countless life experiences, and some medals (so, still single, sorry mom).

The first week of my trip combined training and touring. The Open Swim Team would wake up, practice, eat breakfast, and then embark on whatever Maccabi USA had planned for us that day. We went to Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea, we hiked around Masada, we prayed at the Western Wall, and while doing all of this the 25 swimmers became a team; no, actually, we became a family. HWSD has taught me that the fastest way to achieve success is to do it together. My HWSD teammates and I are very close. I was nervous about being on a team with 24 other individuals (one Olympian and some who swim for other Ivies such as Princeton, Brown, and Yale), and how the team dynamic would work. Now, I don’t know if it was the commonality of all of us being Jewish, sheer luck, or the three-hour game of “never have I ever” that we played, but our team chemistry was phenomenal! We all became best friends in less than 48 hours (at least I think it was 48 hours even with the time zone changing…math). It no longer mattered that Harvard and Princeton were rivals at home; in Israel we were teammates. We were fortunate to have Olympian Garrett Weber-Gale as a teammate. Before this trip, I never would have thought that Garrett would become one of my close friends, but despite all my best efforts to avoid it happening he has definitely become a close friend. I’m just kidding, Garrett is really cool, and I’m lucky that he decided to be my friend (hey Garrett, if you’re reading this, I still can’t believe you went camel riding without me). The first week of the trip was so important for us as a team. It allowed us to get to know one another and bond, and it also allowed us to connect to our Jewish faith. I even met a fellow Harvard athlete and coach who were also on the trip. Harvard is literally everywhere; I love it.

The second week of the trip focused on competing. We were lucky to be able to swim in the brand new pool at the Wingate Institute. The pool was beautiful and fast. It was easy to swim fast in such an exciting environment. Team USA ended up winning over 70 medals. I personally won 3 medals in the pool (2 golds and a silver), and a bronze medal in the open water swim. My dad swam in the 1985 Maccabiah Games, and he won a relay gold, and an individual silver. I grew up seeing his medals framed on the wall, and when I left for Israel this year, I knew I wanted to beat his medal count. When I won silver in the 400 free and then my 800 free relay won gold and broke a meet record while doing so, I knew I had one more chance to out-do Ricky. The next night was the 800 free, and before going to the pool for finals, I checked my twitter (follow me!! @mar_tender) and saw an outpouring of support from HWSD. With their support in mind I dove in for the 800, and managed to take gold. I got out of the pool, looked at my dad, and said, “got ya”. Team USA was so successful in the pool and it was so much fun to watch my teammates win medals and swim fast. After the pool competition, there was an open water swim. A small number of swimmers went to Tiberias to swim in the Kinerret. I signed up to do a 5K because I am a crazy person, and I love distance swimming. This was my first open water event, and it was definitely a learning experience. Some of you know that I spend anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or two in the endless pool, or shark tank as Chris and I call it, in order to work on my stroke technique. The endless pool training really helped me in the open water competition; just one more way HWSD is always helping me out!

The third week of the trip consisted of lying by the pool, meeting athletes from other countries, visiting children in a hospital, watching other sporting events, and sampling Tel Aviv night life. Needless to say, I had a great time. Visiting Schneider Children’s Medical Center was definitely a highlight of my trip. Team USA visited with children staying in the hospital, and we gave them USA Swimming shirts, while getting to know them. I sat with a young boy who was coloring a Spiderman picture, and even though we couldn’t really communicate, he left a huge impact on me. Sitting next to him as he concentrated on coloring is something that will stick with me, as it made me really appreciate my life and be thankful for the opportunities I have been given. As much as I love my Team USA teammates, I cannot wait to be back in Cambridge with my HWSD family. I still can’t believe (or admit) that I’m no longer a freshman, but I know that if this year is anything like last year, I can’t wait for it.

As they say in Israel, Yalla!

Marlee

Harvard Athletes on top of Masada

"Bonding" with my new best friend, Garrett.

Team USA is jumpin'!!

My Indiana Home

Hello from good ol’ Indiana, where the “redneck burger” is making its debut at the state fair this week!

Before venturing home for the summer, the Suarez family graciously hosted DLee and me for a long weekend in the City. Shown around by a true New Yorker, we had the opportunity to skyrocket to the 93rd floor of the Freedom Tower or 1 World Trade Center, seeing the city’s beauty from its highest point. Several days later Kendall, Marlee, and Daniela came to visit and attend the “greatest spectacle in racing,” the Indy 500. Soon the fun was over and reality set in as I began my routine of practice, work from 9-5, practice, and sleep.

This summer I am interning for my Congresswoman, Susan Brooks, at her district office. It has been a truly unique experience working for a grass roots operation for a freshman in Congress. In my “business professional” attire, I answer constituent phone calls, attend meetings and local events, and successfully set up the Congresswoman’s Pinterest page! When she comes back from DC every week, I have the opportunity to attend more formal meetings and larger events. Through this experience, the Congressional staff and I have been key instruments, providing one-to-one service for all. Developing new legislation, sending out press releases, and working on individual casework just scratch the tip of the iceberg.

On a slightly more exciting note, my family and I recently returned from Prague and Berlin! As a likely history concentrator, no two places were better to explore. In Prague we climbed to the top of Prague Castle three times and experienced what life was like behind the Iron Curtain. Berlin brought an eclectic vibe with hidden war bunkers, graffiti covered facades, and of course, lots of schnitzel. After all of the tours, fascination set in and I could not be more ready to go back to school!

In addition to swimming this summer, I continued my practice (and obsession) with hot yoga. Nothing feels better than shavasana after an hour of downward facing dogs in 100 degree heat. Trust me.

Freshman, welcome to the family and the email list! I’m sending my best as you embark on dorm crew duties or FOP trips! Beware of the blisters. I still cannot believe it is time to make the big “Target run” and gather a semester’s worth of shampoo and conditioner. See you soon!!

Xoxo,

Margaret

Indy 500 Fun

93rd floor of the Freedom Tower!

Sunset in Prague

My brother and I at the Berlin Wall

New York, New York

Hi guys! 

I am writing to you all from the big apple, the city where anything is possible- including 24 hour delivery services, which is how I get all my food. While I love the ease of delivery, I have also been trying to explore to find new food and places. There are so many amazing things to see here, and after two months I feel like I have still only scratched the surface. While I wish I could spend all my time eating and shopping, my real reason for being in New York is my internship with PepsiCo. I am working as a sports marketing intern, focusing on the MLB. As luck would have it, this summer the New York Mets hosted the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby, both of which Pepsi sponsored, so it was not a bad time to be involved with MLB. 

While my job has been both fascinating and extremely fun, what I like most is that it challenges me every day to learn something new and step outside my comfort zone. In addition, the other interns I work with have become some of my closest friends and make going to work each day something to look forward to. Coming into the final weeks of my internship, I am gearing up to present my final project a week from today. I am filled with both nerves and excitement. The excitement is mostly for the time when this is done and I will have nothing to do but relax, have fun, and enjoy the company of the many HWSDers in the city. Sara Li, Kyle Krueger, and former-swimmer-turned-rower Jenna Gregoire are here with me now, Daniela Suarez is coming home soon (a few blocks down from me), and Taylor Foster will be coming to visit! Having teammates here with me has honestly been one of the best things about this summer. There’s no one I would rather spend my time with than these girls and having them with me for so many NYC adventures has been amazing.

I am sad to be leaving New York but also very ready to be home in California with my family, AND now Miss Danielle Schulkin who has joined me in the bay :)  

I miss everyone so much and can’t even express how excited I am to hear so much more about everyone’s summers once we are all together again. 

Sending all my love, 

Kyle, Jenna, Sara, and me on Fourth of July!

Watching the Macy's Firework show from the piers.

Batting practice at Mets' Citi Field the day of All-Star game

Me at Serendipity for a late night sundae!

A Complete 180

There’s nothing quite like driving down the road with your windows down, the sun shining, and listening to country music. Being home this summer has been a complete 180 from being at school all year. Not only have I not had to pick up a required book, walk everywhere, or be able to live with my best friends, but I’ve also gotten a complete role reversal with swimming. This summer I’ve had the chance to work as a co-head coach at the summer swim team that I swam for growing up, and let me tell you, I have a new respect for all coaches!

Despite the exhausting heat, countless eight and under kids screaming my name and hanging on me constantly, and getting pushed into the pool fully clothed, it’s been rewarding to see little kids discover a love of a sport that has always been a part of my life. There’s also nothing quite like having an adorable seven year old girl ask for your autograph on your first day of work!  My days are spent getting in the water, repeating “up, out, and around” as I attempt to make my little boys understand that there isn’t a freestyle kick in breaststroke, that in backstroke you actually have to touch on your back, and that the point of a start is to dive out not just jump straight down and touch the bottom of the pool. Thursday nights are full of yelling, screaming, and cheering and sporting the latest spirit costume that the kids decorated as the GCC Green Giants attempt to beat their latest competition in our dual meets. Any other time, I’m probably at one social event or another with my kids, whether it’s roller skating, bowling, going to the lake, a pj dance party, or dinner downtown. We cover it all from the eighteen to the six year olds! Although our season, which finished this past weekend, didn’t end as well as we wanted it to, I think the kids learned a lot about more than just swimming. They learned team spirit, something I’m missing dearly from HWSD this summer!

On the training standpoint, I’ve been swimming every morning before work with a new team and doing some sort of other workout in the afternoon, whether it’s swimming or doing some sort of dryland activity. My new team does a lot of different practices than I’m used to! My old team did a lot more short repetitive work, while this team does a lot more longer interval based training. While I wasn’t planning on changing teams this summer, I think that these new practices will help me come the fall! I’m also planning on swimming in the U.S. Open in a few weeks, so that will be a great opportunity to see how it’ll pay off.

While being at home this summer has been refreshing and fun seeing some of my old friends, I can’t wait to go back to school and start training with HWSD again!

Sending love from the south,

Kendall Crawford

Me and Elliot- an 11 year old swimmer

All the coaches for my swim team sporting hats decorated for us by the swimmers