What is it like to be part of a varsity team? Well, this year, the seven middle school swimmers had to join the varsity swimming team. The AAIS League recently made a rule prohibiting sixth graders from swimming on the middle school team, so our team was too small to compete. The only way in which middle school could have a swim team was if the middle school and the varsity teams combined.
When swim coaches, Coach Adam and Coach Fox announced this, the seven middle schoolers were initially frightened, but we all stepped up to the challenge. A lot of us were unhappy with this decision because we worried the races would be unfair. There was, also, some natural awkwardness between the middle schoolers and the upper schoolers because they didn’t know each other very well yet.
After a productive season with these newly combined varsity swimmers, we asked the coaches for their views on several issues. First of all we asked about the difference between the middle school meets and the varsity meets. The coaches explained that, “The races are longer, and the girls from the other teams have much faster times.” The upper school girls and the middle school girls agreed, but they look forward to continued growth in the future.
Then, we asked what stroke was most focused on in practices (the swimmers agreed it was freestyle and butterfly), and we asked if they felt any tension between the older and the younger girls. The coaches said, “There are certain varsity members who get annoyed more often, but they have improved in being friendlier towards each other as the season has gone by.” One upper school swimmer added, “There is a little bit of tension with some people, but there is no tension with others.” A middle school swimmer agreed, “I feel like most of the middle schoolers and the upper schoolers get along, but a few ones do not.”
This combination of different age groups has affected the team physically and emotionally. However, everyone is working better together, and we are closer than we have ever been. We recently finished the season, and we all agree that the swim team improved greatly from last year due to the addition of Coach Adam, the dedicated leadership of captains Sophie Krueger and Elizabeth Gjersvik, and the strong work ethic everyone on the team had.