Kicking off the 144 year-old tradition, Andover Boys Swimming & Diving returned victorious after surmounting Phillips Exeter Academy 115-71. Boosted by the setting of numerous personal bests, the team looks to use its momentum as it heads into New Englands this weekend. Andover’s record now stands at 4-0.
Dylan Herlihy ’22, a diver who received a season-high score of 149.55, surpassed his initial expectations. Despite being fairly new to the sport, Herlihy capitalized on the twisting-theme of the meet where he was able to apply his ten years of experience in gymnastics in order to gain an advantage on the board.
Herlihy said, “It went well, this was a twisting, dive themed meet. So two twisters were required. Both went pretty well, for me, including the one that I just learned this past week. I think I may have gotten a new high score one or two times. And overall went well.”
The team was able to focus on areas of growth in this meet while still reigning triumphant over Exeter. Christopher Xia ’23 acknowledged how the team has improved throughout the season, particularly by focusing on each individual race and attempting to achieve new personal bests.
“I think overall the team did a really good job of kind of focusing on themselves, which is something we’ve been trying to work on the entire season. Like obviously, that competitiveness, it’s really important. It’s part of the sport, but I think we’ve been spending a lot a lot of time trying to work on focusing on our own times, trying to the best we can do and the rest will come with that. So I think especially at Exeter, everyone did a really good job of doing that,” said Xia.
Sam Lee ’24 highlighted the importance of recovering during and after meets. He connected a swimmer’s performance during practices and how those tendencies apply during meets.
Lee said, “It’s a lot of recovering and focusing on your event. It’s like a very fine balance, because if you overfocused, then there is somewhat of a tendency to overthink everything… So, I think practices [are] usually when you work on technique, and then at the meets, you just go to have fun. You go there, you do what you do during practice. And the philosophy there is that if you do practice very well, if you execute technique perfectly during practice, then at the meets, [technique] comes naturally; you will swim your best. But I think really, the most important thing at meets is obviously just having fun. And just recovering in between races is really important.”
Nevertheless, the fun and excitement also came with tensions between Andover and Exeter, according to Xia. He states that the long continued tradition incentivised swimmers from both teams to give all of their energy and focus into the event.
Xia said, “I think there was definitely some tension. Like we knew there was definitely rivalry. So we went in wanting to win, and we knew they would want to as well. So, I mean, in general, it just felt really good to come away with [the win].”
Staying true to the generational traditions, Lee highlights the inspiring signs that were placed in the boys locker room years ago regarding the two upcoming meets. Lee noted that the initial message was replaced by coaches and now motivates athletes to give these events their all while cherishing every moment and having fun.
Lee said, “Obviously Easterns and New England’s are easily the most important meets of our entire season. The entire season is just building up to go to Easterns and New England’s. So [in] the boys locker room, there’s a door that leads to the pool. And a few years ago, someone put up a sign at the top, like right above the door frame; it said ‘Win Easterns,’ and there was another one that said ‘Win New England’s.’ Our coach saw it once, and what he did was he took them down, and now the signs read, “Just do your job, go swim fast.” And I think this is empowering in a way… It’s just about trying your best, having a good time. And just putting out your 100 percent and just having fun. That’s what it’s about.”
Andover will compete in Easterns and New England’s this upcoming week.