In its first meet in the Pan Athletic Center, Andover Girls Swimming and Diving dominated Suffield 134-48. Divers swept the top three places and swimmers had individual first place finishes in all but two swimming events, bringing the team’s dual meet record to 2-0.
Compared to the smaller Borden Memorial Gym atmosphere, Saturday’s meet in the Pan was lively and full of spectators, according to Valencia Zhang ’25. The team will be hosting five more times this season, an increase from the one home meet held last season.
“Blue Key Heads came. A lot of parents were in the stands. It was really fun to look up there and see everyone, and see a lot of people there. It was a combined meet with Boys JV, so there were a lot of people. And there were just a lot of people on deck, so a lot of noise. A lot of cheering. A lot of energy,” said Zhang.
An upgrade from Borden’s six-lane pool, Pan’s complex includes thirteen lanes, some dedicated purely for warm-ups. With more space, the team had the opportunity to warm-up more thoroughly and test out new events, according to Orla Naughton ’25.
“We have so much more time to warm ourselves up for races, warm ourselves down, just have more opportunities to race. So if there’s an event you want to try out, since there are more lanes, you can just try it out without as high stakes. And also having so much room to have our team along with the JV team there, and the other team, too. We can really just host a really welcoming competition,” said Naughton.
With a new facility, however, comes a need to change old habits. According to Zhang, the team has found difficulty with adapting its backstroke to the new pool.
“A lot of us, me included, have been struggling with the backstroke starts in the pool, but I think it’ll just take another meet or so just for us to adjust to that and just get used to the new touchpads, new lanes, bigger pool, and stuff like that,” said Zhang.
Andover’s 200-Meter Medley Relay team, featuring Veronika Kisova ’23, Addison Deng ’26, Ariana Zhao ’25, Elissa Kim ’24, won with a time of 1:49.84, just two seconds off the school record. Kisova reflected on the thrill of racing in team relays.
“I think the relays are always fun to both watch and compete in because that’s the most team environment you have. Because you’re swimming with other swimmers in your event, so there’s just a lot of team camaraderie there,” said Kisova.
Leading up to the home opener, the team worked on sprint sets. Though challenging, the workouts had opportunities where the team could bond, according to Kisova.
“We did a couple sprint sets this week that were pretty challenging, and they were also fun because in sprint sets you kind of get to get out of the water and go off the blocks. And again having that time out of the water you can also support your teammates. So if you weren’t swimming, you were cheering for your teammates who were,” said Kisova.
Naughton appreciates the team’s encouraging support and hopes that the team will take advantage of the Pan’s extensive facilities.
“Even if you’re the fastest person on the team or the slowest person on the team, everyone always cheers for each other, and I think that’s something that really brings us together on the day of the meet. I think something that we could work on is just really trying to be well rounded in everything, even though we are. Just being able to try new things, ” said Naughton.
Andover Girls Swimming and Diving will host Westford Academy on Tuesday.