The Ithaca College men’s swimming and diving team is currently 5–1 this season, defeating every team it has faced in a dual meet except for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the reigning Liberty League champions for three years in a row.
With only three more weeks of regular season competition, the team is looking to improve on its third-place finish at the 2018 Liberty League Championships. Senior captain Kellen Scanlan has been a consistent point-scorer for the Bombers all season. He has posted top-five finishes in the 50-yard freestyle and 50-yard backstroke. He is also a member of the “A” 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays.
Assistant Sports Editor Emily Adams spoke with Scanlan about the team’s progress this season and his leadership role as a senior captain.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Emily Adams: How has your season been going so far?
Kellen Scanlan: Personally, it’s pretty good. I think I’m where I want to be in the season. I haven’t been that fast in my regular meets, but I’ve been practicing well, and I feel like I’m in a good position to taper well. As for our team, I think we’re in a really good position. We’re just coming off a really good training trip. It’s been a while since we had a swim meet, so it’s hard to gauge exactly where we are, but hopefully this weekend we get to see how far we’ve come and see if we’ve had any improvements.
EA: How did your training trip [to Fort Lauderdale, Florida,] benefit the team?
KS: For one, we got closer as a unit. We’ve really been trying to build a culture through the years, and I think this year our freshmen really bought into it. Of all the training trips I’ve been on, this was definitely the most enjoyable, the most fun. They’re loose, they dance a lot, but when it comes to getting the work done, everyone just puts their heads down and gets the work done, and that makes it really enjoyable.
EA: What areas are you looking to improve on?
KS: We really just want overall improvement [on times]. Since our team expanded so much and we have so many freshmen, it’s a huge learning experience for them. We try to tell them what to expect and get them ready for the practices, but they really don’t know until they experience it. Now that they have experienced it, they may not necessarily be feeling good in the water or going as fast as they want. I know from my experience it just takes patience, and these last couple weeks are crucial. We just have to trust the process.
EA: How has being a captain changed your role on the team?
KS: It’s made me more involved. I’m super engaged 24/7, and I’m constantly thinking about swimming, in and out of the pool. That’s also made swimming much more enjoyable for me. I love being in charge and having a positive effect on my teammates. I hope they see the positive outcomes I’m trying to create for them.
EA: How have you developed since your freshman year?
KS: I’m much more vocal now. I think part of it is trying to learn from the seniors my freshman year. I’ve always wanted to be a leader on the team. I try to take what they did and internally analyze it and see what they did right and what could be better. Then, the next year, I tried to step up more and always work hard. Now, being into the captain role, I’m constantly trying to be the best I can be, not just for myself, but my teammates. The best thing I can do now is try to get the freshmen on that page, so hopefully they’ll be better leaders by the time they’re seniors.
EA: What is your mentality knowing that this is your final swim season?
KS: It’s really weird. I wasn’t a swimmer my whole life. I played baseball, football — you name it, I played it. It’s not just the ending of my swimming career; it’s the ending of my sports career. My mentality for my whole season has been, ‘How much can I push it in practice?’ It may hurt, but I know it could be the last time I get a chance to get better. I want to make the most of every opportunity. I know that I’ll have to move on eventually, but my mindset is just to go as hard as I can. I know if I put the right amount of work in — regardless of if I go best times or not — I’ll know that I did the best I can.
EA: What are you looking forward to for the remainder of the season?
KS: I’m looking for great times all around from our team. We’re in a great position, and I want to see us challenge for that top spot in the conference. I want everyone to have fun in the process, too. Our last meet is a grind — it’s a four-day meet — but it’s also fun and you’re swimming fast. As long as we’re focused and put the work in, once we get there, we just have to worry about racing and continuing what we’ve been doing over our season.