by Matilda Mancini and Sabina Csak
With 10 divers and 26 swimmers, the Greenwich Varsity Swim and Dive Team is hoping to win another state championship. The season is coming to a close, and the team is preparing to take home the gold. They are going for their fourth state championship in a row, but their success at championships goes back many years.
Swimming and diving are both very different sports, yet they are combined together to form one team, with diving using only one lane during practices, and the swimmers using the rest. However, the divers do get a hot tub, so it all evens out.
Swimming and diving are great forms of exercise. They allow students to use many muscles in their body. They also give a really fun experience because incoming freshmen and other students can meet swimmers across different grades. The Junior Varsity Swim Team also offers a lot of opportunities for students who are not as experienced.
“The culture we have created is one that I’m never going to forget!” explained Chiara Rissola, a GHS senior and captain of the JV team. “Everyone is so warm and kind, I could go to practice having the worst day and leave with a smile on my face,” she added.
While there are many good things about the swimming and diving team, there are also some cons. When asked what she would do if she wasn’t a swimmer, Lilly Bjerke, a junior, said, “I don’t know, have a social life, maybe?”
Senior Chiara Rissola, the JV-team captain, added, “to be honest, it’s really hard to balance with school. The practice times are pretty long and I have a lot of other extracurriculars I have to balance it with, along with work for 6 APs and college stuff.”
Not only do the varsity swimmers have practice every day after school for two and a half hours, but they also have practice at 6:45 A.M. once a week, and that’s not including meets. About once a week, the varsity swim and dive team have a meet that can take up to four hours, which includes setting up the pool, warming up, a session of swimming, diving, another warm-up, another session of swimming, and cleaning the pool. Lilly continues, “I really like sailing as well, and I play [the] piano.” So how do these swimmers with almost no free time find enough time to keep up with school?
On top of academic commitments, some swimmers do other sports. In fact, senior Marcella Winget is not only on the GVSD but is also a part of the Girls Water Polo team and will be one of the captains this year. She commented on the cons of being on the swim team: “It’s really time consuming. You won’t be able to do a lot of clubs, because you always have to be at practice.”
Despite the disadvantages, the team does have many positive aspects. The team makes friendship and trust a priority. Every season, everyone goes on a two day retreat to Vermont. It helps all the members build trust and get to know one another better. Not only that, but there are always sleepovers for each grade level.
There are a surprising amount of divers this year. At home meets, Greenwich is allowed to enter four divers, while at away meets, Greenwich can only enter three. This means that only 4 of the 10 divers will get a chance to dive at particular meet.
This weekend, the team competed in the State Championships, and in a couple of weeks, they’ll be at the Opens. Opens is a meet where people who place top 24 in each event at the State Championships compete. Although there is tremendous competition, everyone is very prepared for these events. Not only that, but everyone is extremely excited. Before big meets like this, everybody takes part in fun activities. For example, before FCIACs, they participate in something called Secret Psych. It is a lot like Secret Santa, but, instead, each person is assigned a person to buy candy and make a fun poster for.
The Greenwich Varsity Swim and Dive team requires a lot of time and effort, but Lilly feels that the hard work pays off. “The team is such a great place to be. It’s a really close community and I love it. Even though it takes a lot of time, it’s worth it.”
“Honestly being a part of the team has been such a great experience… I’m going to miss it so much!” Chiara stated. GHS Swimming and Diving is a special part of the team members’ high school experience; with its positive team culture and athletic successes, the team is truly thriving.