Heading into a new season always proves challenging, especially with the loss of last year’s seniors. Rita Roberts ’20, one of the captains of the Hopkins Girls Swim and Dive team, reflected that, “There were some quality seniors last year and I miss them a lot.” Nevertheless, the team gained new members, and have already kicked off their season with a win against Kingswood Oxford.
At the beginning of the season, everyone on the Swim and Dive team writes down their personal and team goals. Co-captain of the Girls Swim and Dive team, Veronica Yarovinsky ’20, elaborated: “Most of the personal goals are to beat previous record times in specific events, or make finals at the New England Championships. Common overall team goals are to win the FAA’s, avoid Chuck’s jacket practices [extremely difficult practices when someone is caught without a jacket], or place in a top spot at the New England Championships.” Every time the Hopkins Swim and Dive team jumps into the pool, they keep these goals in the back of their head for motivation.
When it comes to coaching, Elrick admits that he’s “not the guy that’s going to tap you on the back.” New diver Arielle Rieder ’23 agreed, “Chuck’s coaching style is very strict and he expects that when we get on the board, we never back down and always finish the dive in the pool. Although his coaching is intense at times, he pushes us to do what he believes we are capable of.”
Elrick gains the trust of the swimmers and divers by showing them that they can succeed at what they previously thought was impossible. Elrick explained, “I’m never going to have somebody do something that I don’t think they can do. I’m not going to put you in that situation and embarrass you. But if I think you can do it, I know you can do it, and you’ve got to believe in that too.”
For all the swimmers, Elrick begins practice with a 45-50 minute warm-up swim of about 2000 yards. Next, Elrick’s main setsfocus on stroke technique, endurance, and distance. However, on occasion, the main setsinvolve time sets, in which the swimmers are recorded at race pace. Arin Bhandari ’23 described the time set days as “the low point of any swim season.” These sets are notably difficult for all of the swimmers because Elrick expects them to swim asfast as possible with a short rest.
Among other difficult workouts inside the pool are the challenge sets and threshold sets. In a challenge set, swimmers are split up into different lanes, depending on skill, and race each other by heat. Each group has to swim a 100 (four laps) ten times within a specific time given by Elrick. After each 100, the allotted time loses two seconds. If they don’t beat the clock, they get out of the pool and cheer their teammates on. Juliette Henderson ’21 said, “I prefer the threshol sets compared to other time sets because they are shorter, and therefore I can push myself harder than when I have rest in between sets.” Elrick includes a series of upper and lower body dryland exercises at the end of each practice.
To ease the mental and physical pain of practice, Roberts said, “When someone has a bad day, or the time sets are really challenging, it’s comforting to know that we’re all in the same boat together! We also play fun music to make it a little less miserable.” Yarovinsky agreed, adding that “‘Stacy’s Mom,’‘Country Roads,’or pretty much any Taylor Swift song are some team favorites for improving everyone’s mood.”
This team is a unique size, but they are able to bond really well with each other. Steven Broun, ’21 said, “We call ourselves a swamily, and everyone on the team genuinely cares about one another. Even though swimming is an independent sport, we all want each other to im- prove our records or complete that back dive we’ve been working so hard on.”
Despite the mental and physical struggles, swimmers overcome difficulties together. Whether teammates are racing alongside one another in the pool,squatting together after a challenge set, or grabbing brunch at Chip’s after an especially grueling practice, this team really is the “swamily” they call themselves. Jason Guo ’20 remarked, “Regardless of how the meets go, people never quit the team because the best parts are the team dinners, long bus rides, and the close bonds made over time.”