Izma Shakil, Photographer

Seminole High School’s swim team is widely renowned as one of the best in the district. To maintain this title and stay on top, swimmers prepare for many meets and competitions. 

“Some like to get ‘in the zone’ and stay calm, but some of us like to get pumped, listen to some music, sing, dance, and just have some fun before we race,” sophomore Olivia Ciancimino said.

Individual swimmers all participate in races that impact the whole team’s ranking. The next major competition is coming up on Oct. 27, and it could shape the future of the team.

“The big meets are life and death to us. We’re always told to take them seriously because messing up by 0.1 seconds could mean the difference between first and second place for our team,” said sophomore Stephanie Akakabota.

The overall physical character of the swimmer is very important to how they do and how ready they are for the meets. While some swimmers have their own way of preparing for meets, the team shares collective traditions to assist with meet preparation.

For instance, tapering is a procedure in which a swimmer’s practice time is reduced in the days before a competition. By decreasing their daily yardage, swimmers save energy.

“Everyone prepares for different meets depending on how far our coach will think we will go, but before we go to our big meets, we taper for two to three weeks and shave [everywhere] the night before,” sophomore Anneli Brugge said.

“We taper to rest and relax our muscles and bodies for a faster swim [at meets], but we also put in many hours of hard work and dedication [at our practices],” sophomore Gabriel Haynie said.

The swim team hosts regular preparation “parties” where the whole team takes a part in activities to help them get ready for their meets. 

“We all shave and eat a lot of pasta, [a source of] carbohydrates. We also have a few parties leading up to big meets. It’s mostly for team bonding and to make sure it’s a stress-free environment to take some of the pressure off from swimming at big meets,” said junior Adam  Young.

Although it may seem like a strange tradition, shaving their hair makes their times faster in the pool. It gives their body a more aerodynamic feel in the water and decreases the amount of drag on their bodies. 

All of these traditions make an enormous difference in a very competitive sport that requires long hours of dedication and work. The team is very much like a family, in some sorts, and it’s crucial that these swimmers have the support, confidence and preparations in order to succeed.

“We always have a team dinner and stretch [or] warm up together,” sophomore Abby Culbertson said. “This [allows] us to [get] closer as a team and really bring the team spirit up right before a meet. A big meet has a lot of pressure, so doing this can help us relax and understand we’re not alone.”