Jan. 19, 2013
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – In the pool, Bill Tramel wants the whole Herd to keep making the progress of one Hurd.
Tramel is a pretty demanding guy on the pool deck. So, when Marshall’s first-year coach uses words like “tremendous progress” and “incredible desire” to describe one of his swimmers, you know she must be sprinting in more than her events.
Sophomore Lauren Hurd has two wins in the 100 freestyle and one in the 50 freestyle this season. Her 24.60 (seconds) in the 50 in a recent meet in Indianapolis was an MU career best for the Ohioan, and she’s pointed toward next month’s Conference USA championships in the 50, 100, and 200 free.
It wasn’t from the blocks that Hurd needed to get started for Tramel, however. Even she admits that figuring out a new coach came after – as they say in swimming – a false start.
“In the beginning, one of the things with Bill and me was getting on the same page,” Hurd said. “It didn’t take too long, but as soon as that happened, things started to roll. Getting on same page was definitely big for me.
“I needed to see where he was going, where he wanted to take me, how we were going to get there … just having that trust.”
Tramel said Hurd’s potential is a plus, and “I’m glad she’s a sophomore and not a senior, that’s for sure.
“She’s a great kid, and I think she’s made tremendous progress. Lauren struggled a little bit with the change in style of training, I thought, at very, very beginning. We talked about it, and she really bought into what we’re trying to do.
“She’s not completely polished yet, but she has an incredible desire, but she still needs to perfect her skills, her finishes, her turns, a little bit of her stroke technique. But she’s really making a concerted effort, done a tremendous job.”
Hurd and the Herd finish their home season Tuesday with a 5 p.m. Fitch Natatorium dual meet against rival Ohio. Then, Marshall has dual meets at Liberty and at Duquesne before the Feb. 20-23 C-USA meet in Houston.
The clock has been Hurd’s friend.
“I’m definitely getting faster, slowly progressing, times dropping, and when that happens something is working,” said Hurd, who was an all-state swimmer in high school in Orange, Ohio. “Bill and Sarah (Woodbury, assist coach) have changed my stroke a little bit.
“It’s little things, and for a sprinter, the little things are really big … crossing over, random breathing, faster turns, off the block. College swimming is definitely harder, but in swimming, you’re so in the moment. In high school, you think it’s hard, too.
“It was a transition, but this year I’m significantly faster than I was, and I feel more where I should be in regard to times.”
Hurd’s older sister, Brittany, 25, is a Tulsa, Okla., schoolteacher who was an NCAA champion swimmer at Division III pool power Kenyon (Ohio).
Asked how long she’s been swimming, the Marshall sophomore laughed, and said, “before I was born. My mother (Diane) said she swam every day when she was pregnant with both of us.”
Tramel said he thinks Hurd’s best event is the 50. Hurd said she thinks it’s the 100, but adds a qualifier.
“The 50 is definitely getting there,” she said. “I’ve always swam the 50, but it’s such a fast event, and you really can’t think, you just kind of go. The 200, we’re working on it. That will be my third event at conference.”
Hurd’s season best in the 100 is 54.20, after a career-best 53.92 last season. Her 200 free best came last winter, too, at 1:57.63.
Tramel has each Marshall swimmer prepare a “goal sheet,” Hurd said. Her stated goals in a recent interview were a 1:56 in the 200, and “the low 23s in the 50, and a 52 in the 100” by the end of this season.”
Tramel appreciates that attitude.
“What she’s done so far has really set her up for a great finale to the season,” the Marshall coach said. “Once we rest, once we put on a fast suit, once we shave, she’s going to go. I told her the other day,’ like a rocket ship.’
“Lauren’s going to take off, and I think a lot of that is due to her commitment and her hard work. There’s really no substitute for that and she’s really put in the work, just kills herself in the weight room, can’t get enough of our strength and conditioning.”
Tramel said Hurd’s willingness to work has made a difference in her performance.
“We talked earlier in season,” Tramel said, “and she believed she was working hard and I questioned that. And then she questioned herself after our talk and said, ‘You know what, he’s right, I can push myself a little bit more.’ And she began to do that.
“I wouldn’t say immediately, but in a relatively short period of time she started to see good improvement, and in this sport, you really get what you pay for. If you work hard, you’re going to get results, and if you don’t work as hard, you might get lucky, but for the most part, you’re going to get what you pay for, almost always.”
Hurd said she sees better days for the Herd program that needs to rise in C-USA.
“By the time I’m a senior, we won’t be sixth or seventh, we’ll be first or second,” she said. “It might not happen this year, because everything is so new, but the next few years I definitely see Marshall doing really, really well in the conference.”
Hurd and Tramel didn’t just need to be on the same pool deck. They needed to get on the same page.
“I really didn’t know much about him,” Hurd said of Tramel, in his first year as a head coach after two decades as an assistant mostly in Big Ten, ACC and SEC programs. “I just kind of tried to go in with an open mind.
“I’ve really tried to push myself now. I learned it’s OK to hurt. You’re going to hurt. You just have to put that in your mind.”
Tramel said Hurd has plenty of time to reach both of their goals.
“I wouldn’t say she’s a leader quite yet, but I think Lauren would be a great team captain down the line. But she’s a sophomore and right now, she’s taking care of what she needs to take care of.
“Being a younger swimmer on a team that’s pretty much upperclass-weighted, she’s just taking care of business and learning every day, working hard every day.”