Andover Boys Swimming & Diving won the Eastern Interscholastic Championships last year by 123.5 points. Andover Girls Swimming & Diving placed 8th, tying with Exeter. Looking back on past successes as Easterns, both teams are hoping to improve their performances as they face teams from many states including Pennsylvania and Ohio this weekend.
According to Diving Captain Claire Davis ’20 and Head Coach Paul Murphy, Easterns presents an opportunity for Andover to face a broader range of competitors.
Davis said, “As much as New Englands is technically the culmination of our season because it’s the last meet, I always feel like Easterns is the peak of the season. It’s always just a really fun experience, and I think that it’s really made me grow as a competitor, as a diver. It’s also a really great team-bonding experience, and so going in this year as Captain, I think that I’m just really excited for people who haven’t gone before to be able to have the same experience that I did in previous years.”
“Easterns draws from more schools down in the Pennsylvania [and] New Jersey area and a number of those schools are known as swimming schools. They have year-round swimming and major swimming programs, so for us to go down and compete against them when we have student-athletes who do other sports and also focus more on their academics, it stands out for us as a meet that is different than the New England championships,” Murphy continued.
For Davis and Graeleigh Jones ’21, part of what makes Easterns special is its supportive atmosphere and the opportunity for the team to bond while traveling together for several days.
Davis said, “[Easterns] is a huge meet and a really big deal. [One reason why] it is always a fun meet [is that] you get to meet a lot of new people. Everyone is really supportive and not harshly competitive with each other, so it’s always a great environment.”
“Last year, going to Easterns was a really cool experience, and I think that being with the team for four days, traveling on a bus, and getting to stay in a hotel really brings us all together. It’s also just a super good experience of just getting to cheer for each other,” added Jones.
According to Jones, Andover will be prepared for the meet because of its focus on improving its mental and physical capabilities.
Jones said, “We started tapering last Friday, which basically means that we cut down on the amount of yardage we do in training, but we do a lot more sprint work and racing, and we practice starts. That prepares us to get ready to race, but we can still use a lot of the longer work we did earlier in the season to help with our endurance. So that’s what we do to prepare physically. I also think that to prepare mentally, we have talked a lot about our race strategies, and we visualize our races in advance so I think that that has been really helpful from the mental aspect.”
With this preparation in mind, Murphy and Zack Peng ’21 believe that Andover can perform even better than it did at Easterns last year.
Murphy said, “I think [the girls team is] a little better than last year, and I think we’re a little more prepared than we were last year so I am hoping that we increase our place in the meet. The other times we’ve gone down, we’ve been roughly fourth out of the 25 or 30 teams. So I’m hoping to get closer to that this time around.”
“I definitely think that [the boys team is] going to do better this year. We have a lot of new divers that have really picked up the pace, and they are really bringing the heat,” added Peng.
According to Max Hunger ’20, the team is hoping that Easterns will be an opportunity for its efforts throughout the season to pay off.
“We are really excited and hyped to go to Easterns. It will be a chance for us to cash in on the hard work we’ve done this season,” said Hunger.
According to Davis, the fact that the girls diving team has qualified for Easterns for another consecutive year indicates the growing skill the team has possessed for the past few seasons.
Davis said, “I’ve heard that in the past, the team has only gone to Easterns every other year, so it’s been really cool getting to go there all of my four years, and I think that it shows how strongly we have performed as a team.”
According to Murphy, the high level of competition at Easterns has helped motivate Andover in previous years.
Murphy said, “We see some pretty amazing swimming down at Easterns, faster than what [usually] happens at New Englands. It ends up inspiring lots of us to go faster, and it really inspires people to do their best swimming.”
Boys and Girls Swimming & Diving will be traveling to Pennsylvania on Thursday to compete in the Easterns tournament on Friday and Saturday.