The return of swim and dive

Katerina Floros, Staff Writer

It’s Friday night and you’ve decided to join the swim team at their weekly dual meet. The atmosphere is great, students cheering for their teammates and swimmers giving it their all. The feeling of accomplishment when you finish your race, the reward of going a best time. These are all some of the best parts of the sport, but our Hayfield swimmers were almost stripped of these experiences. 

Following the 2022 season, the swim team lacked both a head and assistant coach. This continued at the start of the 2022 – 2023 school year. But, two people would step up and take the job. 

Tina Bryan is an EFEO teacher. She swam competitively till ninth grade before starting triathlons. She had heard of the lack of a swim coach, and was interested in the job.

“I knew that there was an opening and I was told that it would be a really great experience and that I was needed, so I did it,” Bryan said.

Alicia Sendmeyer is Hayfield’s new assistant coach. She swam through middle school before joining other sports, and she recently moved to Northern Virginia from Italy.

“Ironically, my coaching experience has been overseas for the European Forces Swim League. I coached there for eight seasons. When I moved here, I wasn’t anticipating coaching. But, one of my former Italian swimmers knew that Hayfield needed a head coach. They sent me a message and so I emailed [the athletic director], Mr. Nowland,” Sendmeyer said.

The coaches can’t do it alone, student leaders are needed to make the team function well. The swimmers and divers voted, and with coaches’ approval, five team captains were selected. Seniors Fin Belt, Kaley Davis, Meghan Lewis, Emily Taylor and Junior Gabe Johnson. 

 Part of the fun with team sports is traditions. They can make the team feel more like a family for everyone involved. New coaches coming in don’t know the history of the team, so the captains stepped up.

“We have tried to keep up traditions by getting the whole team involved and making sure the newer swimmers are included! This makes sure that in the future, they’re passed down,” Taylor said.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many team traditions were not possible. 

“This year we’ve really tried to bring back the team dinners, cheers, and bus ride karaoke. We hold daily duck time, a tradition where someone receives a large rubber duck for working hard that day,” Belt said. 

These traditions add to the low stress atmosphere of the team. 

“It’s really fun, and not a lot of pressure which is very different [from] club [swimming]. It’s also a great way to meet people in other grades/with different interests,” Davis said.

Not only is the team low stress, but they are a supportive group of friends.

“I’ve been through everything with this team and I’ve made so many great memories and connections,” Lewis said.

The coaches are very supportive towards all the captains’ efforts.

“I was really excited to bring back pasta dinners, I thought that was super fun to see everyone dine together. I enjoy [duck time], to see everyone smile and the team choosing [who receives] the duck is something beautiful to see,” Bryan said.

As the end of the season nears, the National District championship meet is approaching.

“ I’m looking forward to districts and seeing who we get to go to regionals,” Sendmeyer said.

The end of the season also causes some chatter about next year.

“I hope that we have future seasons together and that we can really keep improving and making more regional swimmers in the future and growing the team,” Sendmeyer said.

For now, the water hawks will keep their positive momentum moving forward with one bus ride karaoke at a time.