Among the first of the varsity Andover/Exeter contests, Andover Girls Swimming & Diving claimed a win on Saturday at Exeter. Behind by four points in the later half of the meet, the team swiftly came back with a final score of 100-86.
According to Lilliana Keim ’25, the event was characterized by high energy and adrenaline as many swimmers achieved personal bests. Kleim described her highlight of the meet as the 100-Meter breaststroke.
“[My highlight] was definitely after the [100-Meter] breaststroke because when we finished with swim, I was swimming down for rest, and I got out of the pool and [Ariana Zhao ’25] was there and everyone started rushing over and hugged me. That was one of the best moments of my whole time there,” said Keim.
In particular, Valencia Zhang ’25 highlighted Zhao’s record-breaking performances. Despite the pressure that was placed on her for many of the events, Zhao’s relentlessness led to breaking three records that day.
“Ariana really pulled out all the stops—she had a lot of pressure on her… and she got the Andover/Exeter record for that, which was amazing. Also, she had us in a lot of events, back to back, and the pressure was definitely on for her. She got like three Andover/Exeter records during the whole meet, which is just crazy. I’m really proud of her. She was a little nervous before and rightfully so, but she did really, really well,” said Zhang.
According to Co-Captain Grace Hwang ’22, despite the many successes, there are still areas of improvement for the upcoming big events. Hwang commented on Andover’s reaction to Exeter winning the first relay race. Hwang hopes that the team can see past the scores, have high spirit, and continue fighting.
Hwang said, “We did well with keeping up the energy throughout the whole meet… and then I guess something that we could work on… I think [for] the first relay Exeter had won, we were a little bit down, but I was like, ‘It’s okay guys, it’s only the first event. We are going to do good throughout the day.’ So just making sure little things like that don’t really get to us [will be important].”
Hwang finds value in demonstrating leadership through kindness and hard work and hopes to be someone her teammates can learn from and lean on.
“I hope that I am being kind to everyone and making sure I’m including everyone, because I think that’s a very big part of being in a team. I hope that I can show a positive attitude towards [everything]… and [that the team] just have fun no matter what. I hope that I could also be someone that [team members] can rely on and be open to whatever concerns,” said Hwang.
Echoing Hwang’s comments on leading the team, Zhang also gave accolades to the swim captains. Zhang expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be able to learn from the Co-Captains and hopefully fill the captain’s spots in the future.
“The captains are my favorite people… They are just so supportive, and you get this sense of leadership and maturity from them. It’s really good because I feel like I look up to them,” said Zhang.
Zhang expressed her excitement regarding the team this year. For the upcoming meets, Zhang hopes for both team and individual successes. More importantly, she hopes to enjoy the experience all the while being competitive.
“I just hope that our team continues to do well. We have a really solid team this year, and it’s really fun to compete. [The season]—it’s just wrapping up so soon. I’m just hoping that we all have fun. And I know that we will because New Englands and Easterns is a big deal, and I’m really excited for them. I hope to have fun,” said Zhang.
Girls Swimming & Diving will prepare for Easterns and the New England Championships in the upcoming weeks.
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