People participate in high school athletics for all sorts of reasons. Some search for an outlet for their competitive energy. Some need an excuse to stay in shape. Students join to make friends, and gain a sense of belonging. They join to become stronger leaders and more confident individuals. They join to learn how to win with pride, and how to lose with dignity.
Through its varied sports program, Gloucester High School allows students with diverse interests to foster these values within themselves. Every team is unique but there’s one team that defies all the expectations. After only 6 years, the Gloucester High School swim team offers a refreshing perspective on the purpose of high school sports.
More likely than not, you have never heard of the GHS swim team. It’s small; only 28 athletes in total. They practice at the Cape Ann YMCA, so you’re not likely to see them working out in the field house after school. They come from Gloucester and Rockport, a mix of boys and girls ranging in age from 7th graders to seniors in high school.
They’re an odd bunch; not exactly what you’d consider cutthroat competition. This year the team welcomed many with no swimming experience. It’s about improvement and encouragement. It’s about community and accepting yourself for your shortcomings.
“We have a strong sense of community,” said diving coach Mercedes Lane, “At every meet, our swimmers are constantly standing on the the edge of the pool deck, cheering their hearts out for their teammates. On our team, you never feel the separation in age. We are truly one team, celebrating each other’s successes and holding each other up on the tough days.”
The swimmers agree.
“We have swimmers from different grades and even different schools this year,” said sophomore Sam Groleau. “But when we all swim together, we are one team.”
On the swim team, you don’t have to be fast or strong to fit in. You only need the perseverance to climb up on the blocks and give it your all in every race.
“Overall, there is not one athlete that did not cut seconds off their time, improve their stroke, make their turns faster and more efficient… the list goes on,” said Lane.
The improvement really showed in this year’s Northeastern Conference Meet, the final competition in which all Northeastern division teams compete for the first place title.
“My proudest moment this year was at the NEC’s,” said head coach Laura Dale
It was the culmination of months of hard work, and though successes were impressive, the true magnitude of these results is only clear if you see how far the individuals came. With that in mind, it seems inappropriate to report only the race winners and the record breakers.
See above for the GHS swim team’s Biggest Improvement Gallery.