Swim teams kick off season with Midnight Madness

Like all Westminster sports teams, the swim team have high hopes for the upcoming season. As usual, the season started with “midnight madness”, which is when the entire team jumps into the pool at midnight. Midnight madness usually occurs the first day that the Cats are permitted to practice by the GHSA. The idea is that the first team in the pool will be the first in state at the end of the season. However, since the first day that GHSA schools were allowed to practice happened to be during Westminster’s fall break, “midnight madness” was postponed to the following Sunday.

Even though “midnight madness” was a week later than prior years, fall break could not spoil the 30-year tradition. It was still a blast for everyone on the swim team. The festivities that took place ranged from eating pizza and ice cream, to a thrilling game of capture the flag and manhunt. According to senior captain Mary Tucker, Midnight Madness is a phenomenal bonding experience for all four grades. Before any of the exciting activities take place, every member of the team introduces themselves. Following the introductions, the theme is announced for the upcoming season. The theme for the 2016-17 season is, “earn it.”

Leadership is a vital part of the Westminster swimming program, and Westminster certainly has exceptional leadership, especially captain Mary Tucker.

“As a senior, it’s all about keeping the spirits of the team high,” Tucker said. “Swimming is a grueling sport, so keeping an optimistic outlook and motivating the team to work hard through even the toughest practices is my goal for the season.”

As much as swimming might seem like an individual sport, Westminster cannot get to and win state with a single strong swimmer. For example, in baseball, a team can have one great player, but not have a great team since the one player cannot do everything alone. The same is true for swimming since one great swimmer cannot win their team state alone. So, it is important for all the swimmers to work on their own craft as well encourage and support their teammates.

Since every swimmer needs to contribute, it is important for everyone to get their times as low as that person can.

“I think that we really need to work on dropping our times so we can get as many girls to the state meet as possible,” Tucker said.

Since the class of 2016 is starting college, the class of 2020 is arriving, doing its best to replace the talented senior class of last year. Erek and Derek Cox were two of the swimmers to swim for the Cats. Since the legendary Cox brothers have now graduated, it is time for underclassmen to rise to the challenge.

“Since we lost a bunch of talent from last year, we need the juniors, sophomores, and freshmen to step up this season,” coach Robert Cochran said. “Some guys that we need [to excel] are Jack Stone and Peter Bernot along with the Hinkes brothers.”

Freshman Peter Bernot has already learned multiple pieces of valuable information from the senior captains.

“They are very good leaders,” Bernot said. “When the coaches are not there at the beginning of practice, the seniors lead until they get there. Also, the seniors lead dry lands every day.”

Dry lands are the equivalent to calisthenics, where the team does everything from lunges, to wall sits, to squats. The dry lands are important for keeping the swimmers in shape for the long, intense season.

“Doing dry lands for thirty minutes every day really improves the team’s swimming, and because swimming is all muscles like the core and triceps, we do a lot of specific workouts for those muscles before we start swimming,” Bernot said.

Although both the girls and boys are 0-1 after losing to Mill Creek, there is loads of potential for both the boys and girls team. Cochran is fresh into his first year being a head coach at the varsity level. He has high expectations for the two teams, and Cochran said he expects for the girls to finish top five in the state, and the for the boys to finish top three. Now, one could wonder, why Westminster swimming can only finish in the top five — Shouldn’t we be first like Westminster is accustomed to?

Swimming is different from many sports because Westminster not only competes with 3A schools, but with all of the schools in 1A-5A as well. To put things in perspective, Mill Creek has more than double the amount of students than Westminster has, yet Westminster still competes with Mill Creek and many other larger schools like St. Pius. Pius is considered by many as the favorite to win state this year, but coach Cochran says that it doesn’t matter who the favorite is, it just matters who performs the best.

With three months to go in the long season, each team has room to grow in all facets of the sport. Look forward to seeing how the young teams progress throughout the season.