Friday, July 1, 2016

Stray Thoughts: R-Day 25 Years Later

Today marks the 25th Anniversary of Reception Day for the West Point Class of 1995.  25 years!  As I wrote on Monday, that day seems like a part of a different life.  The last day of one life and the first day of another.  I can't say that I have a lot of happy memories, per se, of Beast Barracks, but we got through it.  That's what counts.

This was taken during one of the Parents' Weekends way back in 1991.
I'm in the center.  I got down to 140 lbs that summer, more than 55 pounds lighter
than I am right now.
The Class of 2020 reported Monday this past week.  They're headed into an interesting world.  I wish them luck.

Army Swimming put out its spring season update this morning, and as always, it was a fascinating read.  I continue to be amazed at how fast the team has gotten.  Head Coach Mickey Wender has put together an amazing program, and I am more than a little jealous that I never got the chance to swim with him.  The incoming recruiting class includes something like fifteen swimmers each on the men's and women's teams as well as four divers, all State Championship finalists.

Unbelievably, Army Swimming is slowly but inexorably closing the gap with Navy.

Sports at West Point have changed a lot since my classmates and I went through, as have opportunities for former swimmers.  When we were cadets, the Swim Teams got very little in the way of special treatment.  As plebes, we got out of some duties, and we marched in a lot fewer parades than did our classmates over the course of our 47-months, but that was about it.  Swimming was essentially a seasonal sport.  We swam in-season, and we mostly did what the rest of the Corps did during the rest of the year.  Speaking personally, this suited me fine--especially in retrospect--but it was by no means the best way to maximize our performances in the water.

It's not like that anymore.  This year's team saw more than a dozen swimmers stay on-post over the summer, taking summer classes (so that they could underload during the academic year) and training in the water.  The results speak for themselves.  Not only is Army performing better in the classroom, the Army Men's team also put two swimmers into the Olympic Trials, and the Women's team a swimmer into Open Water Nationals.  As a whole, both teams are already building the basis for next season's success.

Below, 2LT Chris Szekely (then a firstie) wins the 100 Free at this past year's Army-Navy meet.  Szekely is one of the men Army sent to the Olympic Trials this year.

I should note in all of this that Army's renewed commitment to swimming also serves in the larger Army as a whole.  A goodly number of the swimmers branch Engineers these days, heading for the Army's underwater dive teams.  I'm not sure if I personally would have done that, but I DO know that I wasn't aware of the opportunity back in the day.  Today, the Army as an organization is actively managing the asset it has in Army Swimming to get the best possible service out of its graduates.  That by itself is HUGE.

While I'm thinking about it, why waste the opportunity to post the video from my favorite race ever.

Go Army!  BEAT NAVY!!!
As I write this, I'm headed into the City to hoist a pint of German beer with my old roomdog Brian.  We're headed to Reichenbach Hall, the best, most authentic beer hall in New York.  

That spot seemed on-theme.  Brian and I both branched Armor out of West Point and went on to serve together in 4-64 Armor, 3rd Infantry Division, Ft. Stewart, Georgia.

Hallelujah!  I've got a four-day weekend for the 4th of July.

Celebrate America, folks.  What a great country!

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