As the 2021 swim and dive season ramps up, the Northeastern diving team takes a new approach to how they prepare for meets.
Last season, all events were held virtually and COVID-19 guidelines forced teammates apart. Despite the toll these obstacles took on the team, the Huskies had a renewed sense of camaraderie and purpose going into their second in-person meet of the season, held Oct. 23.
“The best part about this year so far is that our team dynamic is back,” junior Lauren O’Sullivan said. “Everyone’s really supportive of each other. We’re able to see each other all the time and hang out outside of practice.”
At the first meet of the season, on Oct. 8 and 9, the Northeastern Huskies beat out Central Connecticut State, 206-135, but lost to host UConn, 156-122.
“Most of us haven’t competed in about two years, so it wasn’t so much to go [the first meet] and do well; it was kind of just to learn from it and learn what a competition setting is like,” sophomore Lizzie Meschisen said. “I think it made us aware of what our strengths and weaknesses are, and kind of how to deal with the competition setting mentally.”
In an effort to combat the mental strain from the pandemic, head diving coach Lauren Colby implemented ‘Meditation Mondays’, along with other mindfulness techniques.
“Our coach Lauren is super big on how your mind has such a huge impact on how you perform in your sport,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ll sit there and allow ourselves to get in that headspace, ready for practice, ready to start the week. Usually, she’ll try to have us focus on one thing at a time. Obviously, if you’re over analyzing and have so many things going through your head, it’s going to be hard to perform your dive.”
Divers like Meschisen say they’ve noticed a difference in how they perform since beginning the mindfulness regimen.
“The adrenaline running through my body seems to move at a slower pace when I do the breathing before each dive and even during practice,” Meschisen said. “When I’m struggling and baulking my dives a lot or not doing something well, if I stop and do the breathing, even if I don’t consciously notice it, I notice it in my diving because I’m not as anxious.”
Another focal point of this diving season is increasing degrees of difficulty, in the hopes of scoring more points by competing harder dives.
“We’ve been really pushing our dives trying to boost up our degree of difficulty,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve been putting a lot of extra hours into perfecting our entries. I think this buildup of the fundamentals is going to show at this meet, definitely.”
O’Sullivan’s prediction held true at the tri-meet against Boston University and Bryant University on Oct. 23. The Huskies triumphed in eight events with freshman diver Erin Murphy leading the team to first place with a career-best of 257.55.
The Huskies come home next weekend to host their first meet of the season against Boston College and Drexel University on Nov. 5 and 6.