Online school allows Wu (11) to continue her passion for swimming


Jiya Chatterjee, Staff Writer

“There is a sense of liberation when I swim, a feeling of freedom,” Maddy Wu (11) said. Wu started swimming at the age of two and has been a competitive swimmer for nine years. 

Wu learned to swim at a young age because her mother, who cannot swim herself, was worried about Wu’s safety in the water. However, for Wu, swimming soon shifted from a safety necessity to a passion. Her mother noticed this change too, and encouraged Wu to try out for a swim team.

When Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly announced this fall that students could not participate in out-of-school sports if they planned to attend school in-person, Wu chose online classes without much deliberation, she said. Online school made it easier to balance her swim training — including physical training and eating habits — while staying on top of schoolwork, she said. 

Wu has enjoyed the structured lifestyle that online school allows her to lead. She can follow a regular routine free from any distractions that in-person school might bring, she said. “I’m able to use time in between classes and frees to finish as much homework as possible so that my work doesn’t pile up at night.” 

Wu’s out-of-school swim team at the Asphalt Green sports center has trained regularly during the pandemic. The team meets six days a week, another reason why she chose to stay online. 

Swimming has always had positive effects on Wu. “Swimming helped me cope, and put me in a better place in my life.”

Despite the pros of training every day, Wu still has to sacrifice various aspects of her life in order to attend online school. “My social life is basically nonexistent,” she said. “A lot of my friends aren’t athletes, so even though they ask me to hang out because I’m not in school, I still have to tell them that I can’t come because of practice,” she said.

Even though Kelly announced in March that students attending in-person school could return to their out-of-school sports activities, Wu chose to remain online. “My family and I came to the general consensus that it would be safer for me and my sister, along with my swim and school community, if we stayed home,” she said. 

“[Wu] is a very passionate swimmer as well as very goal-oriented, and I think that’s where her success has come from,” varsity swim team coach Thatcher Woodley said. “She is a very consistent trainer, and has spent a long time perfecting her craft.”

While Wu was unable to participate in the school’s swim season this year, members of the team admire the assets she brought to the team in the past. “Maddy is a really hard worker,” Harmony Li (11), Wu’s former teammate on the school’s varsity swim team said. “She pushes herself past her limits in practices, especially when others can’t.” 

Wu brings an enthusiasm and energy to practices that inspires others, swim team member Walker McCarthy (11) said. 

Wu hopes that her journey in swimming continues into her future. “When I was younger, I always said I wanted to go to the Olympics,” she said. “Once you get older though, you start to put things into perspective and realize your limits.” However, Wu would like to be recruited for college and hopefully swim division one when she gets there, she said.