Girls Swimming Sports Winter Sports

Andover Sweeps Both Loomis and Hopkins After a Week with an Olympian Coach

Emma Cheung ’23 set a season best of 1:10.84 in the 100-Yard Breastroke against Westford on Friday.

Emma Cheung ’23 set a season best of 1:10.84 in the 100-Yard Breastroke against Westford on Friday.

Trailing behind for the majority of the 200-Meter Freestyle Relay, Veronika Kisova ’23 surged ahead during the fourth lap to beat Westford by .13 seconds, earning a victory for herself and teammates Abby Ryan ’21, Ashley Vensel ’22, and Alexa DiCenso ’21, also in the relay. Although Andover ultimately lost to Westford, it went on to beat Loomis and Hopkins during a tri-meet the following day. Andover Girls Swimming & Diving now holds a record of 3-2.

According to Swimming Co-Captain Grace Hitchcock ’20, having the ability to finish a tight race like Kisova did is one of the most difficult things to persevere through.

“Being neck and neck with someone in a swimming race is just really tough, because you are already at the end of the race, you are already exhausted, and you really just have to fight and claw your way to the wall,” said Hitchcock.

Westford is one of the team’s toughest competitors and Andover performed exceedingly better than the previous year, according to Mary Kate Turk ’22.

“They are really good, and their team is three times the size of ours. Last year, they absolutely crushed us, but this year they didn’t crush us by as much. Going into the second half, we were actually ahead. Even though we lost, we did a lot better than last year,” said Turk.

During the practices leading up to the two meets, Simon Burnett, a former Olympian, coached the swimmers on technique and discussed his swimming career which motivated the team, according to Hitchcock and Smirnov.

“Each day that we had practice with him, he would be working on us in the pool on technical stuff. The most valuable thing he brought to the team was actually outside of the pool. It is always really inspiring to hear directly from someone who has accomplished the nth degree in the sport that you are doing. I think he does an incredible job of making you as an individual swimmer here at Andover realize that you can accomplish your goals,” said Hitchcock.

Smirnov continued, “Simon really emphasized in practice that everything matters. Even though it is a really hard set and all you’re thinking about is, ‘I really want to get through the set,’ you should be thinking…‘Is this the right move? The right position?’ Every stroke matters was his big emphasis.”

Saturday’s meet was an incredible display of diligence from Andover’s swimmers, according to Hitchcock.

“People were under stress academically because it was midterms, and we had a meet Friday and then [had] a tri-meet the next day. Not going to lie, everyone was exhausted, but it was an amazing moment to see that exhaustion and still see people going season best times and still getting excited behind the blocks to jump in and win the race,” said Hitchcock.

Against Loomis and Hopkins, Diving Captain Claire Davis ’20 secured a first place win with 224.5 points. According to Davis, the team maintained its composure while competing against multiple divers.

“I’m really proud of how we performed this weekend the meet on Saturday was tiring because it was two teams and 14 divers but everyone stayed focused and nailed their dives.”

Going forward, the team will stress the importance of having a competitive mindset while competing in meets, according to Turk.

“In the bigger picture, relays are more important and gain the most points. I think the team should work on beating the opponent rather than focusing on the time,” said Turk.

Andover Girls Swimming & Diving will travel to Deerfield this Saturday.