Despite being afraid of water as a child, Andover Girls Swimming and Diving Co-Captain Emma Cheung ’23 was convinced to participate in recreational swimming by one of her close friends. The decision to pursue swimming proved to be the right one, as she has now found immense passion for the sport.
“I started swimming when I was nine years old, and I actually had started swimming non- competitively before that. Funny story, I did not want to put my face in the water at all, so swimming was a bit of a challenge to get going, but my parents encouraged me to do so. I had a good friend that was swimming, so I kind of just decided to try it out. It was originally my instructor for non-competitive swimming, who told me I should try out for competitive swimming. And so I did. And now I’m here,” said Cheung.
Molly MacKinnon ’24 came to Andover as a new Lower and met Cheung early in the year at open swim. MacKinnon greatly appreciated Cheung’s contributions early in the season, and how she welcomed all of her new teammates.
“My first impression of her was that she was really kind and genuine and supportive to everyone there. Open swim in the fall can be a little bit rough and everyone feels pretty out of shape as we’re getting ready for the season, but she was always a positive person to have to train with and practice with. Even if she was feeling bad about her own performance, or someone around who was [feeling] bad about their performance, she would always be lifting the team up and supporting her teammates,” said MacKinnon.
According to Mia Wonacott ’24, Cheung leads through transparent communication and effective team organization. Even before she took her role as Co-Captain, she served as one of the leaders of the team.
“Last year before she was even a [Co-Captain], we were doing Senior posters, and trying to get gifts for all the Seniors when she was an Upper… She was really charging through and coordinating all of that. I think that’s what really, that’s how I saw her, she would make a really great captain. She definitely always talks and communicates with us through group chats and talks to our coach for us as well. Over break, sometimes, when I have a question for her, I can ask her and she’ll talk to Coach Murphy. She gets back to me really fast,” said Wonacott.
Cheung pushes herself to embrace the smallest of parts of the season that contribute to the biggest results. Whether she is cheering her teammates on during meets or setting up a team meal, she is constantly motivated to connect with the team.
“During practices, it’s a little bit of a small thing, but just making sure to call out ‘one last one,’ ‘halfway there,’ stuff like that, just to remind ourselves that we’re all in this together, and we’re all doing the same set. We’re all working towards the same goal in some ways. Then kind of outside [of the pool], planning team dinners, honestly, it’s one of the highlights of my day. Just reminding ourselves that sometimes we’re not only teammates, but we’re also friends,” said Cheung.
Wonacott shared similar sentiments to her Cheung, highlighting how Cheung is constantly a source of encouragement throughout meets.
“Her verbal encouragement is great. So she always cheers for our team. I always like to hear her. When people are behind the blocks, she’s yelling out their names saying, ‘Go Katie, or ‘Go Elissa,’ or ‘Go Mia.’ That verbal encouragement is always really nice. It shows that she really cares,” said Wonacott.
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