Andover Girls Swim and Dive Co-Captain Ashley Vensel ’22 began swimming as a way to avoid the Florida heat when she was young. Vensel then began competitive swimming and developed a love for the sport, making connections with her teammates on club teams and the Andover team.
Vensel never planned on becoming a serious swimmer. However, after joining the team at Andover, she realized how important swimming was to her.
Vensel said, “I found my closest friends through my club team, and up into high school. I’ve just done club team just for exercise. I never thought I was going to be so serious about it. But when I got to high school, I recognized that it was a way for me to just relieve stress and a way to get away from all of the academic work and craziness that comes with it. I just really fell in love with the people I met here that became my teammates.”
Vensel explained that she strives to lead by the example set by past Co-Captains. Elissa Kim ’24 emphasized Vensel’s leadership skills, adding that Vensel consistently maintains a high energy, and motivates others to keep working hard.
“I’ve tried to just help swimmers recognize their full potential in practice. I try to push everybody in practice and encourage people to do sets that are harder for them and lean into more difficult sets… I’ve certainly tried to continue the legacy that Abby Ryan [’21], who was the last captain and Haley Waddell [’21], they led the team so well with such enthusiasm and energy and I’m definitely just trying to continue how they left off,” Vensel said.
Kim added, “She’s a leader by example. She says a lot of encouraging things that help us get through tough sets. When everyone is down and really tired, she’s always the one who is energetic and always goes for one more set or one more time. Even during meets, before and after races, she’s always the one to give people high fives first and say encouraging words.”
Vensel is an encouraging captain that pushes the team to the best of their abilities, according to Vensel and Co-Captain Grace Hwang ’22. Vensel deems it important to take note of when swimmers are too tired or not up for a challenging practice.
Vensel added, “I just want to help teammates recognize their full potential… But also recognize that sometimes teammates have off days. They have days where they’re just not feeling it, they’re not wanting to get in the water. On those days, it’s just important for me to recognize that and help every teammate, just support them in how they’re feeling that day, and kind of just cater to what they need to be their best.”
According to Vensel, a great Co-Captain leads the team both in and out of practice. This begins in the locker room, specifically motivating teammates before they get into the water.
Vensel said, “During practice, I just try to get people hyped up in the locker room, because, you know, we end the school day, and people are pretty tired coming into practice, but I always think swimming is separate from academics. Physical stress is different from mental stress. So I try to get everybody just excited to get in the water, because practice flies by when you’re having more fun, and you’re looking forward to getting in a workout.”