Sea lions dive into Ivy Prep League Championship

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Audrey Carbonell, Staff Writer

The Boys and Girls Varsity Swim teams competed in the Ivy Preparatory League (IPL) Championship on Wednesday, with the girls earning a second place finish, and the boys placing third. Prior to the finals, the boys and girls competed in preliminary meets on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

The Lions brought strong energy into the preliminaries, Vincent Li (12) said. “One of the things that [Boys Varsity Swim] Coach [Michael] Duffy likes to emphasize is that a good team is one that has a lot of fast swimmers, but a really great team is one that constantly has teammates cheering each other on in addition to having many fast swimmers,” he said. “There were a lot of times in which I felt that the team was being a great team.” 

Theodore Ganea (12) also appreciated the team’s spirit, he said. “I remember when I was doing the 100 [yard] breaststroke race, everyone was yelling and cheering,” he said. “We would all gather around the lane where our people were swimming, and it really creates a good sense of community and it motivates you to swim faster and harder.”

Li had some challenges during preliminary races, he said. “The hardest part was trying to push through, especially towards the end of my races when I was very tired,” he said. However, it was important to put all of his effort into swimming, he said. “In the 100 yard butterfly, I beat someone else by 0.1 seconds, and had I not put in that [extra] amount of effort I might not have won.” 

Additionally, the unusually cold water made swimming even more difficult, Ganea said. “The pool was frigidly cold to the point where you got in and your muscles would start contracting up,” he said. 

The preliminaries for the Boys and Girls teams were held on different days this year due to COVID, Duffy said. “It’s the first time we didn’t have boys and girls together, which is a little bit different,” he said. “Overall, the boys’ meet did go pretty smoothly and it was very fast, but we trained with the girls, so I would have liked to have the full team together.” 

This year, the school hosted the preliminary meet on its campus. As a meet director, Aquatics Director and Girls Varsity Swim Coach Thatcher Woodley found it difficult to enforce a “COVID conscious protocol,” he said. There was confusion amongst participants on when they were supposed to wear their masks on the pool deck, he said. “We worked hard to keep all participants safe, [by] asking them to stay vigilant with wearing masks,” he said.

The Varsity Swim team had been preparing for this meet from the beginning of the season, Woodley said. “We had this event circled on the calendar on the first day of practice, and it’s very much the culminating event for the season,” he said.

At the preliminaries, the boys team as a whole did their season’s best, Duffy said. Notably, the seniors stood out to Duffy because of their leadership skills, he said. “There wasn’t one single performance that really jumped out at me, but it was our seniors and our captains that really pulled the team together.”

The teams do not score any points during the preliminaries. However, swimmers can earn between one to sixteen points for each race during the championship, Woodley said. Therefore, it is important for all swimmers to do their best to earn the maximum amount of points for the team, he said. 

The girls team’s strategy was to focus, support and celebrate, Mignone said. “We focus on our individual events or relays and develop our own strategies with the help of coaches and teammates, we support others while we aren’t in the pool, and then we celebrate our improvements and successes,” she said. 

At the championship meet, Mignone saw this strategy executed, she said. “Our last race in the IPL Championship was a 400 freestyle relay, and the entire team was standing up and supporting the relay team — these moments of support were very special,” she said. “At finals, the entire girls team hit personal records and we truly swam our hardest.”

One of the team’s biggest competitors was Trinity School, Emma Chan (11) said. “Trinity was the school we were trying to beat because we were almost evenly matched with them,” she said. “Whenever there was a really close race, everyone from the team was cheering and screaming their lungs out.” At the end of the championships, the girl’s team only lost to Trinity by 10 points.

In the 100 yard backstroke, Madison Wu (12) finished first with a time of 58.24. Heidi Wu (9) finished first in the 200 yard individual medley with a time of 2:07.24 and the 100 yard breaststroke with a time of 1:08.22. Madison, Heidi, Rose Korff (9), and Kyra Stinebaugh (9) finished first in the 200 yard medley with a time of 1:52.75. Finally, Korff, Jojo Mignone (10), Heidi, and Madison finished first in the 400 yard freestyle with a time of 3:46.16.

Because this is the first IPL Championship in two years, the team had to put in extra work this season, Duffy said. During practices, the team would swim about two and a half miles a day, he said. “Our strategy is always to do our best and have no regrets,” he said. “You swim as hard as you can when you’re up there, and your job out of the pool is to support your teammates.” 

The next steps for the swim team will be the NYSAIS, Chan said. During the championship meet, swimmers had to make the NYSAIS time quota to be eligible for the meet, she said. “The way it works is that only two people from each team can do an event, so the coaches will pick [these] people to represent the school.”