Opening its 50th season, Andover Girls Swimming and Diving dominated Choate on Saturday, sweeping the top three places in four of the seven scored swimming events. In its only dual meet away this season, the team ultimately won 97-81.
Despite the long and tiring drive, the trip to Choate gave the team an opportunity to bond, according to Elissa Kim ’24. Kim shared how teammate Mia Wonacott ’24 brought a camera for the team to record with, in hopes to look back on the videos at the end of the season.
“[As] it was our first meet, and the first away meet, there was a lot of bonding on the bus and one thing that was super exciting is a teammate, Mia Wonacott, brought a video camera that we used to film different people answering questions after their races and just had a lot of fun with that,” said Kim.
Co-Captain Katie Swan ’23 shared her immense pride in her teammates for their high spirits and performance. Swan highlighted the team’s cheering.
“I am really happy with how the meet [went]. Everyone was really into it, everyone was cheering for each other. The environment was just really supportive which I think is a great gauge on how the team is performing. Because when our team is performing well, our spirits are high, and when our spirits are high, we perform well. So it’s a positive feedback loop,” said Swan.
Co-Captain Emma Cheung ’23 shared a similar sentiment to Swan, illustrating the atmosphere of Saturday’s meet. Cheung appreciated the close-knit bond that her teammates shared.
“[My] favorite part of the swim season are meets because of the incredibly supportive atmosphere the team brings. We’ll always have someone cheering behind every Andover lane during meets. [Especially] when you’re done with your race and you’re climbing out, and you know there’s always teammates saying what a great job you did and patting you on the back. [It] really emphasizes that close-knit bond we have on the girls [team],” said Cheung.
Swan noted the team’s discipline and determination during the two-week Winter Break prior to the season opener. Despite being separated from one another, every team member worked to maintain their fitness, according to Swan.
“[Our] team was very productive over the break and you can kind of tell based on how people are doing. No one is complaining about having to go to practice… you don’t hear any of that. When we got to the meet, you could tell everyone [was] ready to perform and people wanted to be there,” said Swan.
After returning from break, the team had less than a week to prepare for the matchup against Choate. However, due to persistent efforts to build community, the team went into Saturday eager to race for one another, according to Kim.
“We have a lot of team dinners after practices so that’s a good bonding experience to have outside of practice. Within the practice itself, the day before the meet, we did a lot of relay starts, so that was super nice to get into the mindset of racing and scoring points for the team,” said Kim.
Molly MacKinnon ’24 played a major role in Saturday’s meet, receiving shout-outs from multiple teammates. Swan emphasized MacKinnon’s performance in the 200-Meter IM (individual medley event), where MacKinnon placed third despite being unfamiliar with the event.
“Everyone did really amazing. I was very, very proud of everyone, but I would like to shout out Molly MacKinnon because she swam the [200-Meter] IM for the first time. It’s not an event she normally does and [she] killed it,” said Swan.
Cheung highlighted MacKinnon’s constant efforts to support her teammates. On top of individual performance, MacKinnon’s words of encouragement stood out, according to Cheung.
“If [Molly] wasn’t cheering on the side of the pool, she was cheering behind the pool, behind the lanes. But it’s also beyond that. On the days leading up to the meet, she’s always that person that will call out ‘Last one! Halfway through!’ It really helps you push through and it helps remind you that you’re not the only one in the pool. You have all these other incredible swimmers that are there to push you, and you’re all doing it [together]” said Cheung.
Andover Girls Swimming and Diving will face Suffield Academy at home on Saturday.