After graduating an arsenal of record-breaking swimmers, the Boys Varsity Swim team dove into the season with a fresh group of “Sea Lions” to continue the team’s legacy.
Although the team fell to Trinity, the defending Ivy League Champions, the Sea Lions grew tremendously from the match. Team members such as Donny Howard (12), Jack Spencer (12), Vincent Li (10), and John Mauro (11) all surpassed personal best times in their events against Trinity.
The meet also helped build camaraderie among the team above all else, Boys Varsity Swim team Head Coach Michael Duffy said. As a coach, his goals for the team are to work hard and have fun, and the results will depend on everybody’s pulling for each other, he said.
Though Li had been to many swim meets, the way his teammates encouraged one another against Trinity struck him, he said. “One of the things that really matters during a swim meet is how the teammates show each other support, and I think that that’s something that really manifested itself during the meet.”
On average, each swimmer swims about two to three miles during practice, which is “difficult as always,” Spencer said. However, Spencer believes that the whole team improves after a tough practice, as practices serve to build both strength, conditioning, and specific swimming techniques.
“One of the lines we use is, ‘There’s no magic wand in swimming; you have to work hard to achieve your times,’” Duffy said.
It is the team’s second year using the Jeffrey H. Loria Aquatic Center pool, and the team has readily adjusted to the enlarged breadth of the pool now, Duffy said. Currently, as opposed to in previous years where ten swimmers had to swim in one lane, only around five swimmers practice in one lane, so that during practice, Duffy often can split the team into their respective speciality strokes, such as butterfly and breaststroke.
Teddy Ganea (10) thinks that the new pool is “infinitely” better than the old one, since, in addition to being more sanitary, the expanded space allows for more individualized practice, he said. “[We] have the space to do technique drills and very precise drills as opposed to just grinding out laps mindlessly.”
Moreover, the depth of the pool’s floor can be adjusted, so practicing in an “all-deep” pool can help build endurance, especially during the water polo season, Li said.
This year, due to the new aquatic center, the team is able to host multiple large meets for teams both in and out of the Ivy League. “The line in Field of Dreams was ‘If you build it, they will come,’ and it’s kind of like that here,” Duffy said.
Compared to last year, Ganea said that this years’ team is more “close-knit,” especially when it comes to including freshmen in team-bonding activities. Ganea’s role on the team, he said, is to focus on becoming a better swimmer and a committed member of the team.
Though the loss of last year’s seniors caused the team to become holistically slower, some team members have stepped up to become faster swimmers, such as Jin, who didn’t participate on the team last year. Since Jin is a very versatile swimmer and can essentially participate in any event, he was a “welcomed addition,” Duffy said.
Some underclassmen have also contributed to filling in roles previously dominated by senior swimmers this year, Duffy said. “Last year, I was kind of overshadowed by the seniors, and now that they’ve graduated, I get my own time to shine,” said Li, one of the fastest butterfly swimmers.