After experiencing a change in leadership for the 2017-2018 season, the Ann Richards swim team, unofficially the “Starfish,” has been gearing up for their first meet of the season: the Anderson Trojan Invite. For new and returning swimmers alike, the beginning of the season is a time to set goals for improvement during meets throughout the year.
“My goal [for the meet] is to not miss an event,” new swimmer Micky Johnson (10) said, laughing.
Despite being her first year on the school team, Johnson has been an active swimmer before.
“I did year-round swim and summer league swim, so this is typical for me,” Johnson said.
For first timers, new coach Ms. Jill DiCuffa has been prepping the team of 17 swimmers with drills of each of the four swim strokes, as well as starting dives and flip turns. The smaller team allows for a more individualized practice than previous years when the team practiced with the Austin High team.
“I like how we’re focusing on every stroke and all of the different drills to really understand it,” Ava Lindquist-Sher (12) said.
Lindquist-Sher has been on the team since her sophomore year, and reflects on the team’s growth since last year, when the team consisted of only seven swimmers.
“With Austin High, everyone knew how to do [the strokes],” Lindquist-Sher continued. “So we were just kind of doing the stuff with them. We didn’t really get special treatment because it was so big and it was hard to manage all of us, so I think it’s really nice with Ms. DiCuffa going lane to lane and checking our position and things like that because I find that very helpful.”
Besides the changes the swimmers have experienced in the new season, the new and returning swimmers were tasked by Coach DiCuffa with setting long-term goals for the season at the beginning of the year.
“We have so many great girls this year, I think we have a chance of winning,” Lindquist-Sher said. “I think that’s really exciting, because before, no matter what, as long as you do your best I’m excited; But it would be really nice to see how much we’ve grown and how much we’ve improved over the years.”
With swim, even the small things can mean big changes in speed, efficiency, or in attitude.
“Being seniors, we’re looked up to, and so, personally, I’m pushing myself to finish that workout,” Lindquist-Sher said. “If you want effort from the younger girls you need to be that role model and you need to do that. I also like it because I can work on my stroke and focus on my legs.”
Taking time to set goals not only changes the mindset of the team, but gives more meaning to the day-to-day of going to practice.
“I’m not normally a morning person, but this has definitely made me more willing to get up early and do stuff,” Johnson laughs.
The team’s doubling in size has raised some optimistic views about the future of swimming at ARS, especially seeing as the team has felt overlooked in the past.
“I remember I spoke to Ms. DiCuffa about [the team growing] a little bit,” Lindquist-Sher reflects. “They saw how happy we were – we’re family. And like, we’re always there, it doesn’t matter if you win or things like that, we just want them to do the best they can. People will gravitate towards that positivity and that happiness; And they came to us because they saw that, and they could see it by the way we acted that we were happy.”