Girls’ Swim and Dive finish as 2023 State runners-up


provided by Estella Cui

The Girls Swim and Dive team stands for a picture after their States Championship.

Pravar Mukkala, Co-Managing Editor

Athletics are especially prized at WA, and Swim and Dive is no exception. As an extremely successful team over the years, Swim and Dive involves rigorous training and regular meets during the winter, and every year facilitates new growth, regardless of whether the season sees victory or defeat.

The Girls Swim and Dive team recently won second place in the State Championship on Feb. 18. This came after the loss of their DCL crown of eight years; although this may seem like something to mourn, it enabled the team to do their best in the State Championship, and will motivate them more in years to come.

“I don’t think of it as a negative of losing a winning streak,” coach Caitlin Klick-McHugh said. “I think of it as an amazing accomplishment to have put together so many great meets and seasons over the years.”

As a team with a large number of freshmen, the girls started off on unsure footing, with that feeling of togetherness and unity somewhat impacted by the prospect of a difficult season in front of them.

“Even though we definitely had our ups and downs this year, every team does, and I think we were able to work through each situation as it came up,” senior captain Olivia Emanuele said.

However, in the end, the team’s losses allowed for great improvement. With continued team outings, the team bonded, and even though swimming may seem like an individual sport, teamwork was still instrumental in the team’s successful season. According to the captains, many athletes stepped up, constantly improving their times to result in a stronger team overall, especially when it came to relay events.

“[For next year], we want to shift our focus to becoming closer as a team and having a bond that is unbreakable,” junior Estella Cui said. “As a prospective captain, I feel that team bonding is crucial, if not the most important, aspect of a team.”

That does not go to say that there was not individual growth this season. Many swimmers, regardless of their grade level, were able to beat their personal bests for almost every event. Working tirelessly, some even broke school records, placed high at States, and finished on the podium for all their events. According to the captains, having a large number of newer swimmers is not a bad thing—with so many freshmen, there ended up being more potential for growth for the team as a whole.

“I see the team getting better again with the addition of some hard working underclassmen,” Emanuele said. “I think that the goal of the captains should be to work together and make the team fun while working hard. This year we had some difficulties with [that].”

Much of the team’s success this year came from not just individual swimmers but also those who proved themselves to be strong leaders. Senior captain Cara Dominici also attributes some of the team’s capacity to improve to constant encouragement and support from the boys’ team.

Although WA Swim and Dive had a large team overall, its diving team was much smaller. This season, the girls’ team had only three divers: junior Ellie Reuther and seniors Ava Sidelinger and Erin Blatt, of whom Reuther was the only one who competed in States. But with such a small group, the team was able to grow closer and push themselves.

“Having a smaller girls’ diving team is not necessarily a bad thing […] making new connections across teams makes the larger meets much more fun,” Reuther said. “I was really proud of myself for pushing myself […] to do harder dives […] and set larger end goals.”

Even though swimmers and divers don’t practice together, there were still many opportunities for them to connect, especially at meets. For Reuther, cheering her teammates on as they swam in their events was one of the most valuable experiences of the season—along with it being enjoyable, it also helped to prioritize everyone to feel encouraged, and ultimately led to a successful season.

“I was very proud at how we handled ourselves throughout the entire season and the way we overcame our losses,” Dominici said. “The girls team fought really hard to move up in the rankings and make it to a second place finish.”