Swimmers, captains, and coaches prepare for the season

“I describe myself as a coach, as somewhat of a maverick of a coach, and I don’t say this to blow my horn or say that I am doing it right and everyone else is doing it wrong, but I just do it differently and it seems to work,” said the school’s swimming and diving coach Pete Higgins.

This approach clearly appears to work and has resulted in the boys’ team winning 40 state championships since Higgins arrived to coach at the school. The team has only been excluded from the top three in the state four times.

The team is getting prepared for another great season of competition with the help of boys’ captains Sam Beadles, Gabriel Bellot-McGrath, and William Stith, girls’ captains Isabella Issa and Allie Schank, and diving captain Laura Barber.

“As captains, we are in charge of leading and being role models to our fellow swimmers, whether it’s during practice, at meets, or during the day,” said Schank.

The team consists of many talented underclassmen as well as veteran seniors and juniors who all work their hardest in the hopes of winning the state championship.

“The boys are stronger, faster, and younger than I have ever seen. The senior year is stacked with good swimmers, and the underclassmen, led by the Cox brothers, provide the foundation from which I can confidently predict success in the coming year, whether that success be a state championship or not,” said Beadles. “Qualms aside, my eyes are set on the state trophy and to say that that goal is within reach would be an understatement. We have a line on that trophy, and we won’t give up that dream easily. Any other team is going to have to take it from us.”

Even though winning the championship is a high goal to set at the beginning of the season, it is made achievable due to the effort put in by all the swimmers.

“My goal every year is to win the state championship with the boys team and the girls team, and that’s been true since 1960. If you put that over in the academic world my goal is to make straight As,” said Higgins. “More often than not, you’re not going to achieve that goal, you are going to come up short, you are going to make 4 As and one B or 4 Bs and one A. A lot of people think that is being a little ostentatious or bigheaded, wanting to be the state champion every year, but we are in the hunt year in and year out.”

All of the swimmers have to form a strong sense of community in order to swim their best and work efficiently with everyone on the team.

“Our team really bonds during the season from the first day of practice, with our tradition of midnight madness where we jump in the pool at 12 a.m., meets, practice, sleepovers and state and metro,” said Schanck.  “I would say the best part of the team is the camaraderie and bonding.”

The team community encourages all swimmers to cheer on their teammates and swim their personal best for the benefit of the entire team.

“I remember one year during the metro meet, I was swimming the 100 butterfly. The real event, though, was Will Kibler, the senior captain. At that point, he was trying to make the state team in the 100 butterfly, and his last chance was coming up in the b-finals of metros,” said Beadles. “I was behind his lane before I started, and I remember screaming until I was almost disqualified when I watched him slip under the state cut and make the team at the last fraction of a second. To generalize that story, my favorite part of swim team is the community. We all want to go faster, and more importantly, we all want everyone around us to go faster as well. It is a state of continual team building that gains inertia in the year and is the real reward at the end of the season. The state trophy is only representative of this.”

With this in mind, the team has started practicing hard and is gearing up for their first meet on Tuesday, Nov. 12 versus Mill Creek High School.  Although the season has barely begun, the swimmers have already made substantial progress in their goal of swimming as fast as they possibly can.

“First, you talk yourself up to the entire team,” said Beadles. “Then you force yourself to back it up in the pool and on the board. Raise the stakes and win.”

Each person on the team has their own method which helps them in swimming their best, whether it is friendly competition or focusing on each aspect of swimming in the pool.

“The secret to swimming fast is probably having a great start, kicking as hard and fast as you can underwater and being the best at turns.” said Schank. “But whatever they do, it all goes toward three things: winning the state championship, swimming as fast as you possibly can, and forming a great community within the team.

“I like being around people doing things they’ve never done before in their lives and furthermore probably 98.5 percent of them thought they could never do,” said Higgins. “That floats my boat. I enjoy watching people learn things and be successful and move on down the road with their lives and just establishing a personal relationship with an adult.”

Through their dedicated efforts, the captains’ inspirational leadership, and the extraordinary coaching of Pete Higgins, the Varsity swim and dive team has begun a season which will hopefully end in a few much sought after state championship titles.

“I got three rules,” said Higgins. “Don’t get sick, don’t get tired, beat somebody.”S