Co-Captain Grace Hitchcock ’20 out-touched a Phillips Exeter Academy swimmer by .41 seconds to secure Andover’s third-string 200 Yard Free relay team’s win over Exeter’s best relay team. Andover Girls Swimming & Diving defeated Exeter with a score of 104.5-81.5, bringing its record to 5-2.
According to Co-Captain Jackie Rossi ’20, the 500 Meter Freestyle was a particularly memorable race, with Veronika Kisova ’23 beating the Exeter swimmers by a significant distance.
Rossi said, “The three people we put into that heat came in before any of the Exeter people by a lot of distance. I think Veronika lapped all of them at least once, I think maybe one of them even twice. They were all staying pretty close to each other, which shows the depth that we have on our team.”
Both the girls and boys teams defeated Exeter, creating a sense of team unity that translated into increased support for all the swimmers, according to Hitchcock.
“I think that the team was also just incredibly supportive of each other. We always are, but I definitely noticed more of the girls cheering for the boys and vice versa, which is not something that happens at all of our meets, so it just kind of shows that the team as a whole was really there cheering each other on,” said Hitchcock.
According to Rossi, many swimmers managed to out-touch their opponents, helping earn points that contributed to the team’s win.
Rossi said, “A lot of what we’ve been focusing on this week in practice is basically trying to out-touch the people next to you, so we’ve been working a lot on racing those last twenty-fives, and we definitely saw that happen today. A lot of the relays too, people were out-touching at the last minute, which was really great and obviously got us a lot of points.”
Despite sickness and fatigue from Easterns, the team managed to defeat Exeter, according to Rossi and Hitchcock.
Rossi said, “I think a lot of people are very tired right now, just [coming off of] Easterns because it’s a four-day commitment and it’s basically just racing the whole time… Today, we had a few of the girls just push through the race because it was Exeter, but a few others swam one race but stopped because they were feeling really bad and dizzy.”
Hitchcock added, “This meet kind of falls in a bit of a weird place in relation to our training and our championship meets… It messes with people’s training a little bit, just because we train really hard all the way through January, and a little bit into February, then we rest for about a week for Easterns, and then you kind of have to get your body ready to train really hard again for another week…”
Going into New Englands, the team hopes to ride it’s recent success and keep a positive attitude about the meet, according to Gwen Empie ’21.
“I think we’ve put in the work by now, so the main focus we should have going into New Englands is just keeping our mindset as positive as we can. [We need to] know that whatever happened before isn’t necessarily how New Englands is going to go. We have as good of a chance as any other team there if we keep up our spirits and swim as best as we can,” said Empie.
Andover will next travel to Hotchkiss to compete at New Englands.