As this fall’s girls swim season came to a close, the MIT pool transformed from a college sports facility to the high school swimming state meet venue. Senior posters hung from the walls, and the state meet trophy sat in anticipation of a win. The high school’s girls’ swim team not only went undefeated for the entirety of the season, but accomplished what the team has not experienced since 1990: they won the state meet.
The team’s season started off with a win against Walpole, the first of twelve dual meets over the course of the season. From this first meet, captains and seniors made an effort to promote the importance of respect for teammates and other athletes, playing a role in the team’s overall success.
“Our captains have really set a precedent that we include everyone. Sportsmanship is key,” said senior swim team member, Molly Jordan ’20.
In fact, the comradery and professionalism that the team strived for this season was apparent to swimmers on other teams, and the MIAA (Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association). The girls remained humble as the MIAA awarded them a team sportsmanship award, for which they were nominated by other teams in the Bay State Conference
Unlike previous practices, this year, the swimmers were able to practice in the new Boston Sports Institute on Worcester Street. Practices have previously ended as late as 10:00 PM, resulting in late nights for students and coaches.
“Now that we have our own space and time frame, it is so much easier. We can get more sleep and practice right after school,” said Jordan ’20.
With the help of these earlier practice times, the team won all twelve of their dual meets from September through the end of October, most notably defeating Milton, Newton North, Ursuline, and Wellesley’s long-standing rival, Needham.
“We have many levels of swimmers and divers on our team, and the best thing is that they all can lift each other up and swim and dive better as part of the team than they do alone,” said Girls’ Swim Team Head Coach Jennifer Dutton.
The team took it upon themselves to make community and team building a priority. They spent time together at the beginning of the season visiting the Natick Organic Farm and feeding the animals. In addition, they regularly celebrated after meets and had weekly brunches, helping to foster a cohesive and inclusive environment, especially for swimmers new to the team.
“I think we were all really close, which was nice. When we swim lane lines, it’s not like all the seniors are in one lane and all the freshmen are one lane. It’s a mix of everyone together. It’s a good blend of people,” said swim team captain, Paige Buller ’20.
The dual meets concluded with a high-pressure win against Needham who, at the time, was also undefeated. If the Wellesley team lost the meet, they would have broken their undefeated streak going into their post season meets. The meet marked an especially important victory for seniors on the team, who wanted an undefeated season for their last year at the high school.
“[The Needham meet] was back at our old pool up at Babson, which was so cool. It was kind of like a homecoming for us,” said Jordan ’20.
After their win against the Rockets, the team competed in Bay State Conference (BSC) meets two and one and Sectionals. While BSC two is not a scored meet, the team won BSC one as well as Sectionals. Because the team was so strong this year, and they could only take four people per event to BSC one, many strong swimmers were still able to compete in BSC two as their end of season meet.
“Post season meets are a big deal for us. Our team, being a little bit smaller than it was last year, can show up to a post season meet with huge teams like Needham, and win,” said Jordan ’20.
On November 17, the team competed in the state meet. Despite the team’s doubt in their likelihood of winning, the team was ahead by a considerable margin throughout the entirety of the meet.
“Halfway through, we thought, ‘wow, this is a lot easier than we expected it to be,’” said Buller ’20.
The team even experienced a great show of camaraderie and support from other swimmers. In the last race of the meet, the 400 free relay, Walpole swimmers who had qualified for States were there cheering Wellesley swimmers on.
By winning States, not only were senior swimmers able to finish with a strong end to their high school swimming career, but they were able to demonstrate a high level of commitment and encouragement to younger girls on the team.
“I think on the swim team, there’s a lot of respect for underdogs. People who may not be the fastest swimmers but are working really hard,” said Buller ’20.
The coaches stressed the hard-working attitude and persistence of the team this year.
“We asked a lot from them each day, and they responded to each challenge with a sense of pride and teamwork,” said Dutton.