Boys Swimming Sports

Andover Boys Swimming Represents Team USA at ISF World Schools Championship in Rio de Janeiro

COURTESY OF SAM DONCHI

Andover was the first team from the United States ever to be selected to compete at the ISF World Schools Championship.

After Andover was selected to be the sole boys school represent the United States, six members of Andover Boys Swimming traveled to Rio de Janeiro to compete at the International School Sport Federation (ISF) World Schools Championship this past week.

According to Boys Swimming Head Coach David Fox, this is the first time the United States has sent a team to the World Schools Swimming Championships.

“The boys have been working hard all spring to prepare for the meet, and we are all really grateful to Coach Modeste and the school’s administration for supporting this opportunity. I think the boys will represent the nation well and get in some good competition,” wrote Coach Fox in an email to The Phillipian. “Being able to represent a country—to represent the 140,000 members of boys’ swimming teams in the US—is pretty special.”

The Andover team was selected to represent the United States due to its performance during the 2017-2018 season, as Andover placed eleventh nationally among all public and independent schools, according to Coach Fox.

The criteria for competing was that all members had to be born in 2001 or later. Of the Andover swimmers who expressed interest, the oldest were selected to represent the team, according to Coach Fox. The team that traveled to Rio consisted of Lance Freiman ’19, Jack Warden ’19, Riku Tanaka ’20, Marcus Lee ’21, and future Co-Captains Sam Donchi ’20 and Arnold Su ’20.

According to Coach Fox, the meet is primarily composed of 50-Meter and 100-Meter sprint events with one 200-Meter race and relays. The meet is offered in a “prelim-final” format and was conducted in the pool from the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. The team had preliminary races for the first half of the events on Sunday morning, followed by the final round for the top 16 preliminary finishes in the evening. On Monday, competition followed the same format. Members of the Andover team made the finals in every event.

According to Warden and Donchi, the meet served as both an opportunity for competition and an opportunity to meet a lot of different people, promoting connectedness within the sport.

“Representing your club team and [Andover] over the years has been an awesome experience, but I think representing the US as a country as a whole just brings together the sense of camaraderie and patriotism, and it’s going to show how much I love this country,” said Warden.

Donchi said, “We don’t often get the chance to compete against people outside of the United States, and so it was a fun time to compete against such a deep field. There was an emphasis on togetherness within the swimming field, which we don’t really get at Andover, so that was kind of nice.”

While the meet did serve as great competition for the Andover team, the team also participated in non-swimming events and other activities with individual representatives from other national teams, such as Nepsac teams like Brunswick and Hopkins.

The ISF World Schools Championship is put on by ISF, a part of the International Olympic Committee. Therefore, the primary purposes of the meet are cultural exchange, friendship, and peace, according to Coach Fox. The team participated in programming outside of the pool designed for all the athletes to spend time together.

Su said, “What was more interesting about this meet is it wasn’t just swimming. For example, on the first day, between prelims and finals, there was an opening ceremony where every country came out with their flag and marched around the pool.”

Freiman added, “We also got to participate in ‘Nations Night’ where each country performed a traditional dance. The USA decided to dance to Old Town Road in our cowboy hats and bandanas. Everyone thought it was a blast. It was a really big dance party, and we got all the countries to come in the middle and dance with us. It was very similar to a den dance even, except maybe a little bigger. We are very proud to foster such a happy, warm, inclusive, empathetic, and exciting environment.”

According to Warden, representing Andover at this meet is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the members of the team.

“After our historic season this year, after great performances at easterns and New Englands, I thought that my time at [Andover] was done. I was really sad about that, and this is just another meet that gives me an opportunity to be with some of my teammates and represent our school on an international level. I’ll be graduating a week or so after this meet, so it’s just one final opportunity to put in my best effort and represent the school,” said Warden.