By: Emily Davis
I’ve been immersed in the culture of competitive swimming since a very young age. Its unique environment of teamwork combined with individual motivation has developed me as an athlete and an individual. Through years of trying different sports, I have always returned to swimming. The camaraderie and motivation fostered in competitive swimming is unprecedented in any other sport I’ve encountered.
To an outsider, swimming might appear monotonous; nothing more than going back and forth in a pool for a little while; however, in the water, it’s an entirely different experience. It’s the exhilaration of shooting off the wall and into the gruelling main set. It’s that breathless laugh shared with teammates in their few seconds of rest; a wordless acknowledgement of a shared exhaustion and an unspoken cheer. It’s the pool deck after practice, silent save for the labored breathing and coughing that comes with real hard work. It’s the pride of hearing the coach’s congratulations on finishing the day’s workout.
The bond of a swim team is not only formed through day-to-day strenuous practices, but solidified by swim meets. Often times, competition pools are few and far between. The Huskies make a 30-minute trip to Cary in order to compete every week. Every swim meet feels like a trek taken together.
At a high school swim meet, it’s very probable that the only fans in the stands will be a couple of dedicated parents. Other than that, all of the cheers are coming from the team itself. When it comes to the Huskies in particular, they more than make up for the lack of a crowd. Every race has the team poolside, screaming and cheering for their fellow Huskies. The pride of every victory and best time is shared among the team.
Swimming creates this “us against the word” mentality that makes a team a family– united through the camaraderie of being the underdog. When others doubt an athlete’s sport, they will only love it more. Swim team captain and senior Kat Jusko said, “Even though we spend most of practice with our faces in the water, we can still count on our teammates to cheer us on in our races, celebrate with us in our wins and encourage us to go that much harder which makes all the world of difference in practices and meet performances.”
Swimmers are motivated by personal success as well as team success. In individual events, swimmers race against their best times as well as their opponents. However, swimmers can also earn points for their whole team and work together with their teammates in relays.
When you put together an underdog, competitive, concentrated team of both boys and girls combined, you will inevitably end up with an exceptional athletic culture that is like no other. On her experiences as a swimmer, Jusko said, “The morning practices, team dinners, and the shared permanence of smelling like chlorine, through it all, we are a family and that will never change.”