Every year before the North Texas swimming & diving season begins, head coach Brittany Roth and the team have a round table discussion on their goals and what the necessary steps are to get there, including a team motto. The motto for the 2020-2021 season is “today not tomorrow,” which focuses on what each individual swimmer can control following the COVID-19 pandemic where swimming facilities shut down for numerous months.
“The coaching staff and players [after the COVID-19 shutdown] recognize every single day that all of this can be taken away from us, so we have the mindset of making each day count,” Roth said. “What I see every day is the tenacity and drive from everyone wanting to be better than what they were yesterday. It’s about getting back up to attack the next challenge after being knocked down, and that’s the effort I’ve seen all across the board.”
Three swimming & diving events as of Wednesday, Oct. 21, were canceled with the hopes of rescheduling before the end of the semester. The first two scheduled events to be held in Fort Worth against Texas-Christian and Arkansas on Sept. 25 were canceled. The Mean Green’s first home matchup against Houston on Oct. 21 was also canceled.
The annual Green vs. White inter-squad competition took the place of the Texas-Christian and Arkansas event on Sept. 25, which featured team-building and swimming & diving activities. The Green team won with a score of 425-407 over the White.
The Green team won the first two events with wins in the 200-meter sprint medley relay race and 1000-meter freestyle. Freshman Madeleine Nguyen, junior Brooke Beddingfield, senior Micayla Morgan and sophomore June Harris set a team time of 1:48.42.
Senior Leigh Faires McGee led the White team at 1:54.16 to win the 200-meter freestyle. Freshman Diana Kolb also won with a 59.73 time in the 100-meter freestyle for the White team.
“The Green vs. White meet was a really great opportunity to see where everyone is in their current events,” Roth said. “It definitely was a window into where we need to focus our practices and where we can realistically set individual training goals. I was overall pleased with the way the team competed at the meet.”
The practices among the different swimmers and divers are different after the North Texas athletic department implemented social distancing measurements for each team. Each position group is now practicing in small groups or individually with the coaching staff.
While all the swimmers and divers do not get to see each other every single day, the team utilizes Fridays for team meetings and as a way to bond with each other.
“Right now we’ve been practicing hard and with the extra time on our hands, and we’ve also used it to focus on the little things to get right before we actually do have the competitions,” senior diver Meghan Miller said. “Since the new way of practicing began, we’ve done well with practicing within those confines and building a team atmosphere. The inter-squad matchup we had was nice, it’d also be great to compete against other schools as well.”
During the 2019-20 season, the North Texas swimming & diving team had 12 freshmen getting their first collegiate season under their belt. Of the 27 total members of the team, 20 were underclassmen.
This season, North Texas has 12 upperclassmen (six freshmen, 12 sophomores, eight juniors and four seniors) after expanding the roster to 30 total swimmers and divers.
“Having a lot [of teammates] who were freshmen last year, I saw them mature. It was good to see them grow during the season,” McGee said. “They fell under the wing of the upperclassmen and learned about our culture.”
The Mean Green swimming & diving have two scheduled meets with Southern Methodist (Thursday, Nov. 19-22, and Saturday, Dec. 5) for the rest of the fall. The North Texas athletic department is working to finalize the team’s schedule following the canceled events.
Featured Image: Senior Leigh Faires McGee squints in the light at practice in the Pohl Recreation Center on Oct. 2, 2019. Image by Jordan Collard