The girls swim and dive team made a final “splash” to their five-year regular season undefeated streak, winning the Swimming and Diving State Championship meet on November 12. Considering both the cancellation of the meet in 2020 and the new teams of fast swimmers entering the competition, their strong finish represents the team’s hard work and commitment to the sport.
“States was a very important meet for us because it was the first time we had [it] since my sophomore year and we really wanted to keep our undefeated title…so while it was a really hectic meet, I thought we swam very well,” said girls swim team captain Iris Xia ’22.
Since the start of the season in August, the team has practiced six days a week, for two hours each day. Girls swim team coach Jennifer Dutton makes sure the team focuses on fitness and improvement over the win.
“Jen really pushes us. We sometimes get tired and want to stop, but at the end of the day, she knows exactly how to push us to our limits, while never putting us in an event we cannot do. For example, she always puts me in the 500 [yard freestyle], and I thought I would never be able to do it, but you always can,” said girls swim team captain Allie Boucher ’22.
Dutton coaches her team to value good sportsmanship and personal accomplishments. The team cheers on both their own teammates and the opposing teams.
“I encourage the swimmers and divers to think about staying in the moment and fighting the ‘battle’ at hand – not the one that is imaginary (a ‘streak,’ or whatever, that we can not control). At the end of the day, we hope that we can do that better than the opposing team on a given day. I would rather lose a meet and have everyone do best times than win ‘ugly.’ I am proud that… [the coaches] get to watch our swimmers lose their voices cheering for swimmers on opposing teams,” said Dutton.
In order to foster an encouraging and supportive environment, the captains assign secret “psychers” (treats and a card gifted to a teammate) every meet, lead cheers, and organize team dinners and get-togethers.
“We focus on making sure everyone feels like they have a place on the team. Acting as a leader is crucial because it is important to make sure that swimming is not an individual sport, but a team sport,” said Boucher.
This emphasis on teamwork extends to practices, where Junior Varsity and Varsity practice together, ensuring that there are no “easier” levels and that all athletes can contribute at meets. The captains have placed an emphasis on helping the younger swimmers learn the ropes and ensuring that swimmers can ask them any questions.
“[The captains] are proving to be some of the strongest leaders in recent memory. They are able to work together and between the three of them are relatable to everyone,” said Dutton.
Captains Eleni Livingston ’22, Xia, and Boucher credit their leadership prowess to the older swimmers and captains during past seasons, who were able to manage a large team while continuing countless traditions, including a trip to Provincetown and a ropes course activity. The captains hold fond memories of the past competitive seasons.
“My favorite moment was the Needham meet that we won two years ago. We were super close, but they were up ahead by the halfway point, and then we took the meet home in the last half. So that was a crazy win for us,” said Xia.
Whether the team achieves a winning score or not, their close-knit community is an achievement in itself.
“We are strong young women and we carry that with pride. WHS Girls Swim and Dive has been one of the most important aspects of my high school career,” said Livingston.