Girls Swimming

With a combined six years of competing for Andover, Varsity Girls Swimming Co-Captains Kait Simpson ’14 and Amy Zhao ’14 are well prepared for the home stretch of their final season of high school competition. With only a meet at Exeter before Easterns and Nationals, the captains of the Andover Girls Swimming team are looking to step up and make one last push with their driven team. Coming into the last three weeks of the season with a 4-1 standing and having broken numerous records, including one All-New England, Andover looks poised to finish strong. The work of the two captains has proved invaluable for the team’s success this season. “Kait and Amy have been phenomenal captains—some of the very best I have had in my 23 seasons with this team. They have invigorated this year’s team with a renewed sense of fun and purpose. They know all the kids on the team well—and they still made time to make sure their own contributions to the team were top rate!… We have been fortunate to have great leaders this year. It has made an enormous difference,” said Coach Paul Murphy. Strong team chemistry has played a vital role in this season’s success, due in large part to the leadership provided by the two captains. “Amy and Kait really put in a lot of effort this year to help team bonding,” said Kay Xia ’15. “They organized multiple team activities, such as a laser tag trip, a photo scavenger hunt and many secret psyches. At the start of the season, they secretly made little posters with funny photos of everyone to stick on our lockers.” Zhao, a seasoned four-year Varsity swimmer, noted that this has been a special year for the team, both in and out of the pool. “This season has been amazing. We’ve seen great in-season times, which is an indicator of the fast swims to come at championships. More importantly, I cannot emphasize how wonderful the girls are,” said Zhao. “There’s no team on campus that has as much fun as us. Period,” said Simpson of the team chemistry. “Having fun is by far the most important thing. But my biggest focus is on motivating the girls to get out of their comfort zones in training and challenge themselves to do things they have never tried before. I take training seriously and do my best to lead by example,” she added. Looking ahead to Exeter, Easterns and New England’s, there is no dearth of confidence or team spirit. “We’re super pumped up for our last three meets of this season. Our last dual meet of the season will be incredibly exciting. Exeter sports a strong lineup and the meet looks to be a very even matchup. But, I think we have the better team, in terms of not only speed, but also of team spirit and character. Our main focus, however, will be on New England’s, which is our last meet of this season. Of course, winning is a major focus, but for us, the excitement of racing and being there for each other are what matter the most,” Zhao said. Simpson said, “The team dynamic is kind of like a rainbow, there have been some lows and highs and lots of colours in between, but we’ve definitely found the gold at the end. We’ve become closer than close and have had some pretty wild times together.” With the season winding down, both captains are well aware that this is their last chance to prove something in the pool. Simpson, a two-year Senior from Canada, is set to swim next year at Tulane University in Louisiana, but she is keeping her sights set on finishing her high school career with a bang. “I’m excited for the next few weeks of this season because this is where we will see best times that everyone has been working for all season. I’d really like to see some school relay records fall too,” said Simpson. On her last three weeks of swimming for Andover, Zhao said, “It’s definitely bittersweet. I’ve been swimming on this team for the past four years and moving on is tough, but I know the team is in great shape for the future. In these coming few weeks, I would like to enjoy every moment I spend with these girls: training in our homey pool, racing to [Paresky] Commons after practice, singing (loudly and off-key) on bus rides, and cheering for each other, to name a few.” Zhao will swim next year at Yale University.