By Calleigh Reardon
This year, East’s swimming and diving team has acquired new expectations, new members, and new coaches. Participation in the sport skyrocketed despite the new process for tryouts.
In contrast with previous seasons’ tryouts, aspiring swimmers and divers automatically made the team. However, members of the team who do not participate actively will eventually be cut.
“We are just trying to make sure that the divers who are practicing really want to be here practicing,” diving coach Adrienne Wollman said. “Ideally we wouldn’t have to make any cuts (this will be the first year that we do) because we want to make sure that anyone who is interested in getting involved in [swimming or diving] has the opportunity to do so.”
The size of the team, larger than those of the past four years, may pose potential problems but brings advantages as well.
“[The number of people on the team has] caused some serious crowding in our lanes, but other than that we have more fun because you see people all over school who swim since we have such a large team now.” senior captain Nina Henage said, “We still have just as much talent as before, but this season we will have a lot more fun.”
The large size of the team may raise some worries about to typical excitable teenage behavior. Wollman trusts that as long as students keep priorities are kept in mind, this will not be an issue.
“In order to succeed this season, I think that the team will have to just stay focused during meets,” she said. “Competing is a much different mindset than practice, so I think it’ll just be a matter of bringing the same level of confidence and determination from practices to a meet situation.”
While the acceptance of all students regardless of experience could set the team up for other possible complications, Henage is not worried about it.
A new coach has also offered a different perspective and idea for the sport’s success.
Lyn Smith succeeded the role as head coach of the team after the spot opened up and she recalled previous positive experiences with the team.
“My daughter, Meghan Smith, a 2010 graduate of East, LOVED high school swimming more than anything,” Smith said, “[My daughter and I] share in the memories and make those same types of memories for the swimmers that follow in the East program.”
While Smith has altered a few things about the teams’ procedure such as adding captain mentors for the sake of communication, she appreciates the team’s success in the years past and those aspects of the team which made it such a success have remained unchanged.
“I know the East program and did not want someone to come in and change East swimming for the kids.” Smith said, “East has a great winning and sportsmanship tradition, therefore, I did not want to change a great thing.”
Despite a record number of swimmers, Smith plans to devote close individual attention to each of her athletes, which will ideally raise the quality of the team as a whole and not just that of those new to the sport.
“By keeping my focus on each and every one of the swimmers’ needs and try to make this season successful for each and every one of them in their own way.” Smith said, “Each of them filled out a goal for me at our first meeting and I hope to help them accomplish that goal.”
While the defeat of Chapel Hill High in the first meet has undoubtedly been a result of the new head coach, Smith is quick to recognize those contributions of her fellow coaches.
“[This year we have] 3 awesome assistant coaches: Issac O’Hare, Ashley Howard, and Evan Doughty,” Smith said. “I could not do it without their help!”
Overall the changes made this season are welcomed by athlete and coach alike and both have high expectations for this year’s team.
“I’m really optimistic about the season.” Wollman said, “We have some very talented returning divers as well as some new divers with a great deal of potential. It’s going to be very, very exciting to see how they progress!”