Despite Andover Girls Swimming’s loss of nearly a dozen Seniors who graduated last spring, the team has several new swimmers who they hope will fill the gaps left by the Class of 2011.
Last year, the swimming team was undefeated until Interschols, where it finished runner-up to first-place Exeter. The last time Andover won the New England Championship was in 2009, but the team believes that they have a chance at victory. Returner Campbell Howe ’14 said, “This year we are coming back planning to take it all. And we will. Andover has an advantage of depth of the team. Instead of only having two or three key swimmers in total, the team has two or more strong girls in each event. And a lot of the girls are able to swim more than one event well. By having PA fishies across the board, we are able to get more points than other teams.”
There are promising newcomers such as Danielle Liu ’14, Qiqi Ren ’15 and Miranda An ’15. With help from these new swimmers and the returning team members, Captain Molly Levene ’12 said, “[I] definitely think we have a shot at winning Interschols.”
Returning to Andover’s team this year is Amy Zhao ’14, an All-American swimmer with a 50-Meter Freestyle time of 23.74 seconds. She also set Andover’s record for the 100-Meter Butterfly last year with a time of 56.55 seconds.
Levene said, “Our intersquad meet this Friday will tell us more clearly where our strengths and weaknesses are, but at this point I think we will be strong in the freestyle events, but breaststroke will be a potential weakness.”
The Girls Diving team will look to new talent this year, as all divers besides Captain Lilybet MacRae ’13 are new to the Varsity team. MacRae, arguably the best diver in Andover’s history, broke the pool, school and New England Prep School records last year.
In addition to new and returning swimmers, Andover will turn to its experienced coaching staff again this season to train the team to improve last year’s second place finish into a championship title. Named Coach of the Year in 2011 by “The Eagle Tribune,” Paul Murphy is the head coach for the team again this year. Also coaching Andover is five-time All-American Belinda Canavan.
As the team looks forward to the coming season, Andover anxiously anticipates its meet against Exeter. The swimmers hope to defeat their rivals for the second year in a row on A/E day.
In the team’s more immediate future, Andover will host the team’s first official meet of the season on January 7 against Choate.