Varsity swim hosts NYSAIS meet

Alison Isko, Staff Writer

The Girls and Boys Varsity Swim team placed 10th out of 20 for the girls’ events and fifth out of 14 for the boys’ during The New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) meet.

Vincent Li (10) received 6th place in the 100 fly and 100 backstroke, Eddie Jin received (12) 6th place in the 50 free, Harmony Li (10) received 5th place in the 100 free, and Walker McCarthy received (10) 5th place in the 200 free. Ahaana Shrivastava (11) earned 4th in the 100 backstroke, the highest place won by one of the school’s swimmers.

“I know [Shrivastava’s] been working so hard in that event and so I was just really proud of her, seeing her come out of the pool and just having her finish her event with a strong time,” McKayla Widener (12) said.

Nina Gaither (11) earned two personal records while swimming relays on the second day of NYSAIS, she said. She swam in the 50 free and the 100 free.

While NYSAIS wasn’t the team’s best meet, it was far from their worst as everyone swam well and some people had very good times, Leah Sepiashvili (10) said. “In terms of everyone’s swimming, I think we all strive for a little bit better, but that’s just the reality of competing against yourself,” she said.

Some of the team members’ best times this season occurred during the NYSAIS meet, Widener said and compared to other meets this season, it felt stronger.

Though the team placed slightly higher at last years’ NYSAIS meet, with the girls’ team earning second place, the team’s races and times were better this year, and the competition was stronger, Widener said.

Teams from private schools throughout New York state competed in the meet, Varsity Swim Coach Michael Duffy said.

In order to compete, swimmers had to meet a qualifying time for their event. Schools were then allowed to bring up to two qualifying swimmers per event. Those who placed in the top 16 on the first day of competition moved onto the finals that occured on the second day of NYSAIS, which were made up of two heats per event.

Many members of the team qualified for the finals, which was impressive because of how close together all of the competitors’ times were, Widener said.

NYSAIS is the largest meet hosted by the school, and for many people, it was their first chance to see what a meet with fifteen or twenty teams looks like, Shrivastava said.

“Relative the Ivy meet, everyone competing at NYASIS was at a higher skill level, as they had to meet certain time cuts to qualify,” Jin said. In fact, one member of Packer Collegiate’s team qualified for the Olympics trials in the 100 free, he said.

The NYSAIS meet felt more serious because of how many teams were competing, which Shrivastava liked, she said, and although the increased number of teams caused NYSAIS to be a longer meet than usual, there was also more time in between events.

Many of the swimmers from other schools who competed at NYSAIS swim on club teams outside of school, Gaither said.

None of the members of the school’s team compete on club teams during the swim season, though some do after the season ends, Shrivastava said.

“I used to swim club and I know a lot of other people on the team used to swim club, and coming to this meet sort of felt like we were back then,” she said. “It was kind of a fun little throwback to that.”

Because none of the members of the school’s team swim on club teams during the swim season, after President’s Day weekend, the team had gone almost the entire week without practicing, Jin said. “When you take a week off you get pretty rusty.”

The team was supposed to have more practices, but because there were extra days off for a wellness day and Presidents’ Day weekend, the season became a little bit interrupted, Gaither said.

To prepare for the meet, practice became slightly more individualized, with different parts for different swimmers, Gaither said. “You swam short distance one thing, long distance another thing.”

“The way swimming works is you work really hard, and it kind of breaks your body down, and you kind of feel sore,” Duffy said. “About two weeks prior to a championship meet you do more sprinting and more rest during practice. Normally we swim almost three miles a day, so we might drop it to a mile and a half of just sprint-intense work. So it’s just a different way to train. You lower the amount you swim, so there’s more rest but more sprint.”

Because the team had recently competed in the Ivy meet, they had just tapered off, which is lowering the amount of high-intensity work during practice, and then tapered again for the NYSAIS meet, so the team didn’t have time to do the high-intensity training that keeps them in shape, Jin said.

There was an extended swim season this year, and when there’s two championship meets, it can be difficult to rally together for the second meet, Duffy said. However, the team rose to the challenge, meeting their goals of working hard, having fun, and hitting their best times at the end of the season, he said.

Jin’s goal was to medal (place in the top three) at one of his events. “I didn’t get to that goal,” he said. “I think that there was a lot of competition in the events that I swam, like the 100 freestyle and 500 freestyle, especially because a lot of other schools, they have pretty big sprinters,” he said. “I think in some events, if I chose my events smartly – maybe if I swam the 200 – it’s pretty possible that I could have gotten one.

Jin still enjoyed the meet, though. “This was my last swim meet ever,” he said. “I’ve been swimming for over ten years, having swam for various teams and at all levels of competition, and I can safely say that there’s nowhere else that I would have ended my career.”