The Westminster Bi-Line

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The Westminster Bi-Line

The Westminster Bi-Line

Swimming to glory
credit: ClydeClick;

For years, the Westminster swim and dive program has been one of the most prestigious programs in the country, producing collegiate athletes every year. Throughout previous years, the girls’ team has been dominant in the state and nation, and the boys’ team has always been just as competitive. Both teams are powered by a strong team culture that emphasizes the importance of each swimmer.

At the state meet this year, on Feb. 7, the girls took first place in the state for the seventh consecutive year. The boys team battled hard to secure a respectable fourth place finish against tough competition. The girls’ win was a huge team effort, led by two huge relay wins in the 200 medley and 400 free. The girls team also grabbed two individual wins, one from freshman Greta Myers and another from senior captain and University of Virginia commit Katie Christopherson. 

The dive team, coached by Lauren Hall, also continued to show prowess at the state meet. Juniors Hallie Harris and Trevor Dempsey both earned notable fifth-place and ninth-place finishes respectively. 

A successful athletic program, specifically swim and dive, is magnified by a lively team culture, and the Westminster program has just that. Members of the team, freshmen to seniors, stress the importance and strong presence of a robust team environment. 

“The upperclassmen are very welcoming, and being four years apart doesn’t show at all,” said freshman Connor Christopherson. “I’ve enjoyed the new friends I’ve made on the team, and I’ve bonded with everyone.” 

The team seems to have their camaraderie down to a tee, and even organize activities outside of the pool to bond with each other. 

“We’ve all gotten together to decorate our cars, go to dinner after meets, and some of the boys on the state team even got matching haircuts,” said Katie Christopherson. 

“A high quality team culture is conducive to winning,” said senior captain Andrew Su.

His statement clearly holds true for the team this season. Both the girls’ and boys’ teams have gained key results in meets throughout the season leading up to the state championship. Some crucial wins for both teams were the McCallie Invitational at the beginning of the season and major dual-meet wins against 7A powerhouses Walton and Lambert. 

“When the girls swam against Walton on senior night, they were undefeated and coach Loughran used to coach for them so we knew it was a big meet,” said K. Christopherson. “The girls won, and multiple swimmers got state cuts.” 

However, while the girls teams were favorites to win the state meet throughout the season, the boys were underdogs. Despite losing many skilled teammates due to graduation in the boy’s division, the team’s dedication to hard work remained unwavering. 

“This season has been interesting because in the past we have been the favorites to win,” said Su. “Coming off last season, we lost some key swimmers making us the underdogs.” 

Winning is only a product of how hard you work, and preparation and consistency in practice have been key to victory for the team this season. Coaches Sharon Loughran and Jan Allen employ a very effective strategy in having the team swim hard for long yardage at the start of the season, helping the swimmers develop a solid aerobic base. The coaches also institute some resistance chords into workouts throughout the season, promoting strength. However, they allow the practice intensity to taper off leading into the state meet to emphasize recovery and focus more on small technical elements for the swimmers.

 “The taper helps us recover properly, and allows us to be fully rested for the state meet,” said C. Christopherson.

The coaches see recovery as one of the most important keys to winning at the state meet, and Loughran has done everything to make sure her swimmers are properly rested, even creating a recovery room for them. 

“Coach Loughran has set up a recovery space in the Catbackers room in between state prelims and finals,” said K. Christopherson. “The room allows us to use Normatechs and Theraguns as well as cold tubs.”

Culture, hard work, and coaching are all synonymous with Westminster swimming and are the keys to developing state-champion swimmers each year. The best example of such success is senior Katie Christopherson. On top of her four gold medals, Christopherson finished her high school career by setting three state records and setting Westminster records in the 200 IM, 100 breaststroke, and 100 freestyle. However, setting records is not foreign to a fierce competitor like Christopherson, as she set a state record sophomore year, going unbroken until she surpassed it this year. With the state championship races at Georgia Tech proving to be her final races in high school, the amount of pressure was immense. Despite the stress, the senior performed extraordinarily in the clutch and secured a team victory along with numerous individual gold medals. Christopherson has had a vastly successful high school career and is looking forward to building on her momentum going into the Olympic Trials this summer. The task is tough to qualify for Team USA, but Christopherson will use the opportunity to prove herself amongst the nation’s best and prepare for collegiate swimming. 

Senior captain Sadie Clayton will also continue her swimming career in college at the prestigious University of Chicago. She will be following in the footsteps of her brother, Miles Clayton, who previously swam for Westminster and the University of Chicago.

With a successful season in the books for the Westminster swim and dive teams, another state championship is the ultimate goal for next season, and the team must keep building on their strategies toward success. As some seniors transition to collegiate swimming, returning members and underclassmen will carry the team name forward, aiming for another victorious season. 

Edited by Helen Slawson

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