Swim captains aim for state

Ashley Chase, Editor in Chief

A trip to the pool usually brings to mind feelings of relaxation, tanning out in the sun with a cold drink or splashing in the refreshingly cool water, taking advantage of the warm lazy days of summer. But true swimmers- the people who define the pool as their track, who regularly give off a faint aroma of chlorine, who will be dolphin kicking at 35 degrees Fahrenheit on a Monday morning- have no thought of relaxation on their minds. They come to the pool to work, and treat swimming as the thing it is- a hardcore sport.

“The team this year is much more competitive than it has been in previous years,” swim Coach Davies said. “We have a large, very competitive freshman class and we are hoping to build the program to provide a JV and varsity team in the future. Our team is very cohesive, we work hard while also striving to have fun and I believe that has been one of the many keys to our success.”

The Vandegrift swim program is split into a girls team and boys team, with two captains for each. Zach Bezella, Justin Balarbar, Cierra Jacobsen and Jade Federlin are this year’s chosen, representing the Viper swim team and leading their teammates to victory.

“I have a lot of good experience leading the group through a lot of team things since I’ve been to state,” senior captain Jade Federlin said. “You can push people to have high goals and know that it’s very attainable. I just wanted to show people that.”

The captains all have their eye on the prize of state title and are determined to get it- but that doesn’t mean only looking out for themselves.

“I wanted to be captain because my last two years have been hard seasons and what kept me in the sport was my peers who motivated me and kept me going,” senior captain Cierra Jacobsen said. “Swim is more than just the times- it’s about the people that you’re with. I wanted to be captain to be that person for those people.”

Being the people that the rest of the team looks to brings a mantle of responsibility on all of the swim captains.

“There’s a lot more responsibility for me,” senior captain Justin Balarbar said. “I have to hold myself at a higher standard. I can’t skip practice because I don’t feel like going to it because then the underclassmen think that’s ok to do. I always have to be at my best and be a good example.”

But with the extra weight of responsibility comes a sense of freedom and power to be able to influence the rest of the team.

“It’s been really fun,” senior captain Zach Bezella said. “You have more say in what the team does and you get to organize fun things. People look at you as a role model and you get to use your own experience to help underclassmen through high school.”

Each member of the swim team, captain or not, is held to high standards. Practice commitments involve five hours of swimming each day, and the sport is draining.

“It takes a lot of dedication to swim that many yards a day for that long,” Federlin said. “It’s also a very mental sport-it’s about 95 percent mental and 5 percent physical.”

Each team captain has their own incentive to stick through the intense athletic expectations required for them. For some, the love of the sport and the desire to improve keep them going.

“It really inspires you to get better because you look at all these olympians and you’re like, ‘Wow, I wish I could be that fast,.’” Federin said. “It’s just seeing all these other people you look up to and you want to be there with them.”

For others, however, the team experience and supporting each other as a collective whole is more than enough motivation.

“It’s the people that I meet, it’s not really the sport,” Balarbar said. “I’ve been with these people since the very beginning. Some of these people I’ve been on the same team on for ten years. It’s great being with them. I like watching them succeed and I like having them support me through meets and practice.”

The swim team had their first meet Sept. 19 for the Black and Silver swim meet. This meet was more of a “scrimmage” meet, only involving Viper swimmers racing against each other.

The Black and Silver Meet is just a fun way for me to see everyone race,” Coach Davies said. “It’s a great team building event as well. The team goes out for lunch afterwards and it’s a time for the new team members to hang out with everyone outside the pool.”

Despite only being one meet into the season, the team is already bonding and the captains are excited for the possibilities with the fresh start of a new year.

Yes we are a team but you can kind of just get in and give your all, your personal all,” Jacobsen said. “It’s based on you. However much you put into it you get out of it. I know if I work this hard this season I’ll see those results.”