Girls Swimming Looks To Repeat As New England Champs in ’04

The girls are diving back into the water. The Varsity Girls Swim season has started, and this season will boast a pool full of talented swimmers. As one of the most hard working, consistent teams on campus, the “Swimmin’ Women” look to continue their success of the past few seasons. Taking the New England Championship in both 2002 and 2003, and coming off last year’s perfect season, the Lady Blue has emerged as a huge swimming power in New England. Already, the team is working harder than ever. Coached by Paul Murphy, they swam hard before break, and continued to practice throughout vacation. To continue with their winning streak, the girls are going to have to step it up this year. Hopkins may pose the strongest threat to the Lady Blue’s third consecutive championship. The Hilltoppers’ strength lies in their large number of seniors and freestyle swimmers. NMH should also prove to be very competitive. Both Hopkins and NMH have “depth and diversity,” said coach Murphy. “They are fast teams with fast kids.” Another strong squad is Exeter, Andover’s perennial rival. After a disappointing season in 2003, placing 7th in New England, the Exeter squad boasts a fresh batch of talented recruits. According to Exeter coach Jean Farnum, “Almost half of our team is new.” “It’s a little bit of an unknown of how we are going to do in the league,” said Murphy. “But we look strong enough to be really competitive throughout New England.” Helping the loss of ten seniors from the swimming and diving program, there are thirteen talented newcomers to the Andover pool and twelve returning New England Champions. “There are a bunch of new kids on the team and all of them look very strong” said Murphy. Helping to bring the team together is swimming captain Kate Page ’04. She is set to lead the squad to its third straight season of prep glory. “Kate is doing a great job,” said Murphy. “She’s watched three years of captains and taken some of their best ideas, along with her own. She looks to be one of our strongest leaders ever.” Alex Doty ’05 echoes her coach’s sentiments. “Kate Page is a true leader,” she said. “She really knows the sport.” Page has been a huge asset to the team since she started on the team as a junior. She was part of the New England record-holding relay team for the 400-yard freestyle medley in 2001. Indispensable in relays, freestyle is her strongest suit. Also leading the team is Hee-Jin Chang ’05. After representing South Korea at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Chang arrived at Andover in 2001. In her first two seasons as a member of the team, Chang has amassed New England records in both the 100 and 200 yard freestyle and the 200 yard individual medley. She also holds numerous school, pool, and Andover/Exeter records. Last season, she won All-American in the 50, 100, and 200 yard freestyle events. Named the MVP of the New England tournament for the past two seasons, Chang is an integral part of the success of the team. Doty is another exceptional third year swimmer. She holds the school and Andover/Exeter record in the 200 yard medley relay and an Andover/Exeter record for the 100 yard butterfly. She is especially dominating in butterfly and backstroke events. Last year, she won All American for her time in the 100 fly, as well as the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay. One of the breakout new swimmers on last year’s team was Katie Faulkner ’06. She shines in long distance races, consistently placing at or near the top of the 500-yard freestyle race at meets. She came in 5th in that event at the Interschols. Over in the diving pool, captain Jacqueline LeBoutillier ’04 is leading a relatively inexperienced team of divers. LeBoutillier placed 11th at the Interschols last winter. Also returning is Liz Finnegan ’06, who placed 12th at Interschols to help secure an Andover victory. With their first meet against the New England Barracudas called off because of bad weather, the Andover Girls Varsity Swimming team is ready to take on their first opponent, Choate, this coming Saturday. “Everyone’s coming together really well and working as hard as they can,” said Doty. “We’re off to a great start.”