Co-Captain Abby Ryan ’21 has always looked up to past leaders for inspiration and motivation; now, as a Co-Captain, Ryan aims to provide the same mentorship for her teammates. According to Ryan, she strives to be supportive for all of her teammates in and out of the pool.
Ryan said, “I try to be more of a positive presence in people’s lives and someone that they can confide in. I try to be the same sort of support figure that the captains in my past have done for me. I try to motivate people through reaching out to them and being an open book, and also through the different workout challenges that we’re doing.”
According to Ryan, past Andover Swim Captains have influenced how she leads, teaching her that captaining extends beyond just team settings.
“I definitely look up to the captains I’ve had over the past four years at Andover… Emma [Donchi ’18] and Jess [Gearan ’18] were my two mentors during my [Junior] year. I was really fortunate to have them, not just for swimming, but also school and adapting to the Andover experience. They were awesome, they were my real swimming inspiration,” Ryan said.
According to Head Coach Paul Murphy ’84, Ryan’s ability to inspire her teammates made her a natural choice for Captain.
“Abby’s been on the team since she was a [Junior] and the whole time… she’s been an integral part of the emotional life of our team. She really inspires everybody else—she is always upbeat, one of the hardest workers on the team, although everyone works hard. I think that she was a natural choice for captain, so it was really cool to see her chosen by the other kids,” said Murphy.
Ryan helped bring the team together and adapted to the virtual world of Covid-19 through an online competition, according to Sofia Smirnov ’22.
Smirnov said, “In the fall, we had this workout challenge she organized, alongside Hailey [Wadell ’21], our other captain. They organized a competition, even with the boys who would workout. So each workout would be different points and they [kept track] of the points in a worksheet. ”
According to Murphy and Ryan, Ryan has continued to maintain team connection across digital boundaries through an online activity similar to “speed friending.”
“Abby actually made sure that we had something really fun to do. There was a website, I can’t remember what it was called, but it was basically like everyone had to sign in, put in an email address, and then it jumbled up the team, and it paired people up, and it had a bunch of questions that you asked each other. It was like speed dating almost,” added Murphy.
Ryan added, “My roommate recommended me to this site [called Icebreaker] where it’s like speed dating. We all got to know each other through different conversations where you would be talking to someone new for a minute or two minutes or five minutes and then you’d rotate around. So we did that to get to know each other those first two weeks. I feel like that definitely connected people—either teammates who haven’t seen each other in a while or teammates who have never met.”
According to Ryan, she is also trying to create another challenge to help the team stay in touch online.
“We’re trying to have a challenge where people can log different miles so we can translate a 20 minute yoga session into a mile of exercise of any form. We’re going to try to race across some sort of distance. Maybe the East Coast or Andover to the West Coast,” Ryan said.
Despite not having a season, the team is already talking about what they hope to do in February when members of the Senior class will be coming to campus, according to Murphy.
“It’s a bummer to have a year where we had two really strong Captains ready to go and we just don’t have a season. But they’re doing the best they can with the situation that they find themselves in,” said Murphy.
Ryan hopes to continue motivating the team to stay active and connected throughout the entirety of the remote season.
Editor’s Note: Abby Ryan is a Sports Editor for The Phillipian.
Editor’s Note: Hailey Wadell is a Copy Editor for The Phillipian.