Boys swimming team starts strong

Boys swimming team starts strong

Photo credit Katelyn Jones

Though still early in the season, the Westminster boys swim team has propelled itself to a promising start. Led by their legendary head coach, Pete Higgins, the team has started off the season with a 1-1-1 record thus far.

Mason Adams, Michael Eriksen, Darren Godsell, and Frank Love are the team’s captains, and besides helping the team with their performances, they have found ways to do even greater good through their leadership.

“These are the best captains we’ve ever had as a group,” said assistant coach Bridger Bell. “Every day, they start the team off on the blocks, lead dry land, and hold the swimmers accountable. They had a lot of input going into the season on how they wanted to do things that have now been instituted based on holding their teammates to a higher standard.”

In the first meet of the year, the Cats were defeated 172-122 by Mill Creek. Although they experienced a disappointing overall loss, the Cats still won many of the events held. The boys won the 200-yard medley relay with a team of seniors Mason Adams and Michael Eriksen and sophomores Taylor Cooper and William Stith. Eriksen won the 200 and 100-yard freestyle as well. Sophomore Gabriel Bellott-McGrath was also a standout, winning the 200-yard individual medley, and Adams dominated the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard backstroke. Frank Love also won the one-meter diving competition. Despite these astounding individual victories, the team was unable to walk away with an overall win.

The team used this start to motivate them for their second meet, McCallie. Officially called the McCallie Invitational, the meet is one of the most significant meets of the year and one of the best opportunities for the team to bond. It also happens to be one of the largest meets, with over 15 schools participating. Each year, the swimmers and divers board a bus at 5:30 a.m. and drive all the way to McCallie High School in Tennessee.

This year the Cats swam better in the finals than the prelims, an unusual occurence. Although only winning the 100-yard freestyle, the team accomplished numerous goals. Freshman Patrick Leonard qualified for the state team in the 500 free, and both Bellott-McGrath and Stith set personal records in the 100 breaststroke. The team consistently placed close enough to the top that they garnered a third-place finish, which, combined with a second-place finish by the women, ended up securing the overall first-place prize for Westminster.

One of the most famous traditions of the meet is the pizza-eating contest held at Cici’s Pizza on the ride back to Atlanta. This year Stith emerged victorious with 51 slices, with second-place finisher freshman Hal Silcox eight slices behind him at 43.

“It was pretty difficult,” said third-place finisher, Cooper, who ended with 32 slices. “The trick is to paper towel off all of the grease before you eat the pizza.”

The squad then emerged with a rare tie in their next meet against Brookwood High School. The relay teams excelled, with wins by the 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle teams. The team also excelled individually, with wins by Bellott-McGrath in the 200-yard individual medley, Adams in the 100-yard butterfly, and Stith in the 100-yard backstroke. Frank Love also won the diving competition.

As the Catfish transition to the heart of their schedule, the team hopes to finish strong and contend for the state championship once again. With such leadership and coaching as the Cats have, and both the upperclassmen and younger swimmers supporting the team, the future looks bright.