Swimming and diving team enthusiastic, dedicated, hardworking
Published: Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 19:02
A hockey player might use the phrase "winning streak" to describe his five early-season victories. A poker player might use the term to highlight his fourth winning hand. When the Wellesley swimming and diving team uses those words, however, they're describing a tradition, not a recent set of triumphs. The Blue swimmers and divers have won the Seven Sisters Championships for the last thirteen consecutive years.
"They're extremely hardworking," said head coach Bonnie Dix of the swimming and diving team.
"One of the things about being a swimmer is that you have to value delayed gratification," she added. "Swimming fast isn't fun—it hurts. But when you go to meets the payoff is huge. That's when it gets fun."
The structure of the Wellesley swimming and diving team is unique compared to many other schools. While the scores of both swimmers and divers are tallied together at meets, in most universities the two factions are kept separate at practices and rarely interact. At Wellesley, although the divers have their own specialized coach and they practice on the opposite side of the pool as the swimmers, the two parts of the team are always considered to be a single unit. One athlete, Karina Chung '13, competes in both swimming and diving.
"We're definitely one team," said Dana Dutton '11, one of the team's three captains. The team eats dinner together "pretty much every night" and is extremely tight-knit.
Although the coaches and athletes each cited several different goals for the year, there was one predominant ambition shared by all team affiliates. "We want to win Seven Sisters," said Alex Cahill '11, one of Dutton's two co-captains. If the team manages to nab this year's championship title, it will be their 14th consecutive Seven Sisters triumph—an impressive feat by any standard.
Keelin Nave '14, a newcomer to the swimming and diving team, described more personal goals. "I want to complete my individual goals for each event, and also continue to grow closer with the team," she said. Although the time commitment demanded by the sport is large, Nave stated that the personal satisfaction derived from being a member of the team more than balances out the sacrifices she is occasionally forced to make.
On a team of 30 young women, Nave is one of 20 who are either first-years or sophomores.
"We have a really strong group of first-years as far as leading in the pool goes," said Dix. "They're pretty confident, and I think that the sophomores are the same."
Dix added that the high concentration of younger athletes has not had any negative impacts on the team dynamic. "They work well together," said Dix of the team as a whole. "This is one of the more cohesive groups that we've had."
"We all like each other and we all get along," said Dutton. "We have a great team dynamic." She added that the team is extremely supportive of one another both inside and outside the pool.
"They're like a second family to each other," said assistant coach Carlos Vega, who joined the team this fall.
Although Dix and Vega agree that swimming is mentally challenging and that practices can be grueling, they do not underestimate the value of the sport. "You can do it for your entire life and continue to find more to learn and improve," Vega said. "It's extremely rewarding."
"I love swimming," added Cahill. "It's a great stress-reliever."
When asked about the greatest challenge presented by swimming, Cahill and Dutton delivered a unanimous response: time management.
"There are lots of times when I say, ‘Well, I can't do that, I have practice,'" said Cahill. The team swims two hours per day, six days per week in addition to an extra three early-morning weight sessions. "It can be a challenge to balance, but I can't imagine my life at Wellesley without swimming."
Cahill, Dutton and their co-captain, Victoria Nichols '11, are firm believers in the "no regrets" policy. Given the opportunity to do it all over again, all three agree that they would definitely choose to do swimming.
The swimming and diving team's first meet of the season will be at Wellesley on Nov. 6.