Club Sports spotlight: Swimming club

Katie LaDuke , Copy Editor

On any given night, the Olympic-size pool on the lower level of the Oakland University Rec Well is populated with people of all skill levels, including kids just beginning to learn. But the far right lanes are used by Oakland’s swim club on Monday nights.  

The two-year-old club was founded by its current president Amber Gier as a way to continue the sport without the NCAA Division I competition. However, many members are familiar with competition since they swam before college.

“I like how the club is really laid back, and it’s not so competitive or hardcore like high school was,” member Tia Falzarano said. “The college club is a social experience but also staying active.”

The club holds around 20 to 25 members each semester but is still accepting new members. There is no official tryout process, but it is recommended that interested members are familiar with the four strokes: freestyle, breast, back and butterfly.This is not required as the club can work with members that have little swimming experience.

“We welcome anybody in our practices,” Gier said. “If they can only do one stroke, then we help them with the other strokes.”

Practices are typically held on Mondays and Tuesdays. Mondays are spent in the pool working on strokes and distance. Members are on the track running on Tuesdays. Both days are flexible with members working at their own pace.

“We incorporate running into our practices because it helps build up endurance in different muscles you’re using in the pool,” Gier said.

These practices help get members ready for meets. Typically, the club is invited to around three meets each semester and attends at least one. Clubs from a variety of Michigan schools, including Grand Valley State University, Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University, usually attend.

Meets are set up like normal competitions with meter races and relays, but it depends on the host school. Schools can add unique races such as co-ed relays or one specific to the school.

At one meet, there was a “Laker Relay.” Four members from a team would swim 25 meters while wearing a t-shirt. Members would have to climb out of the pool and put the t-shirt on the next person.

The meets are also not as competitive as regular competitions. The focus is more on personal bests. Teams are scored with points, but no trophies or awards are given. Each team’s total points can range based on the amount of members.

“Your teammates are there to support you and nobody is pressuring you,” Falzarano said. “You do it for your personal goals.”

Members are just as active out of the pool as well. There are several fundraisers a year, and members participate in community involvement. The club sponsored a table for the Ruth Ellis Center at OU Make a Difference Day.

Team bonding is also an important aspect for the swimmers. The club usually goes to Oakland club hockey games and out for dinner as a group.

“[The club] is motivation to keep me going,” Gier said. “Everyone is just so friendly, and it doesn’t matter about your ability. I love how the team bonds by seeing everybody who you wouldn’t expect to be friends bonding together and connecting.”

The club is scheduled to have its first home meet of the semester on Saturday, March 24 at the Rec Well pool.