Feb. 21, 2015
By Joe DiSipio ’18
The transition to life as a college freshman is a difficult one, as the adjustment process to the enhanced responsibility can be slow. Adding the rigor of a Division I collegiate athlete’s routine creates an even greater challenge for the student-athlete. But two young members of the University of Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team have surpassed all expectations, competing at the highest levels, both in and out of the pool.
“The only thing you know for sure when you’re a freshman: it is not going to be what you did at home,” says Tim Welsh, longtime men’s swimming coach and current interim women’s head coach.
Treble and McIntee had to face the adjustment of a new home, a new program and a new coach, yet continued to improve throughout the season. Their persistence through the burdens of being both a first-year student and a collegiate athlete led the coaching staff to select them to swim at ACC’s.
Treble, a high school All-American for Massapequa High School in New York, is a distance swimmer and specializes in the 1,650-yard freestyle. She also competed in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events at the ACC meet.
Towards the beginning of the season, Treble battled an illness that set her back at the start of her college career. However, she persevered through the illness to show steady improvement throughout the season.
“I’ve been getting faster ever since and working through recovery,” she said, as she kept in mind her early-season goal of making it to the ACC Championships throughout her recovery process.
Since arriving at Notre Dame, Treble has focused more on technique rather than racking up “garbage yardage,” as she calls it. Speed is essential in the 200, while pace is key when swimming the 1,650, so it is important to be perfect in the little things. Treble loves the mile race but says she must keep her pace in check “because if you do go too fast, then it will really hurt.”
Strategy has been key all week, and will be again in Saturday’s 1,650 free event, as some of the top distance swimmers in the country will be competing against Treble. She intends to remain focused and trust in her training, but the young Treble says, “It will definitely hit you,” once she finally mounts the starting block and takes it all in.
So far in Atlanta, Treble has turned in a career best in the 200 free (1:50.65) and also had a solid swim in the 500 free (4:58.96).
Although Treble and McIntee share the honor of being the only two Notre Dame rookies to travel to Atlanta for the event, their inaugural seasons took very different paths.
“I started off the best that I have ever in any season, so I just tried to keep the momentum,” McIntee says. The 2013 Junior Olympic champion swims shorter events: the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke and 200 individual medley, all of which she competed in this weekend.
With the “C” finals of the 200 breaststroke still to go, McIntee has already claimed 23rd in the 100 breast (1:03.92).
Many members of the team cited McIntee’s unbelievable ambition as a force to be reckoned with in and out of the pool. Her drive has earned her the nickname “4.0 Sherri” from Welsh in honor of her outstanding achievements so far in the classroom.
“There are definitely sacrifices that come with being a collegiate athlete and having to do the same schoolwork that everyone else does,” McIntee says. “I just came in with the mentality that I was going to work as hard as I could and just whatever I ended up with, I would be happy with knowing that I tried my best.”
Momentum, combined with motivation from upperclassmen, has driven the success of both freshmen.
“It’s been great having them here motivating me and I look up to all of them,” McIntee says. “Emma [Reaney], especially – she’s just such an inspiration with everything she has achieved throughout her four years, and I know she’s going to go on to do great things. So I am excited to have had the year to swim and train with her.”
Despite closing her own remarkable record-breaking collegiate career, Reaney has been impressed with the performance of the team’s two youngest ACC Championship swimmers.
“I am fully confident that Sherri and Molly have the ability and the drive to reach levels in college swimming that even they might not have imagined yet,” she says. “I’ve had a blast with them this year!”
The meet in Atlanta has been the first big test for both Treble and McIntee as they step in the waters of big-time ACC Swimming. The experience has definitely been a memorable one, and at some moment it just “hit them” as Treble explained before the meet go underway.
“I feel like I have those [moments] at every meet,” McIntee adds, “where I’m just like, ‘Gosh, I can’t even believe I’m swimming with these people and at the college level.'”
Treble and McIntee deserve to be excited, because a whole lot of people are excited for them. This week’s competition at the ACC championships has been a valuable one for their overall development, but it should also be enjoyed. As Reaney told the two newcomers, “Our training will do the talking in the pool – don’t stress!”