Jumping in: New beginnings for ARS swim team

ARS swim team warms up their bodies in the LA Fitness pool before  diving into practice. Photo by Ms. Jill Dicuffa.

ARS swim team warms up their bodies in the LA Fitness pool before diving into practice. Photo by Ms. Jill Dicuffa.

For the first time in ARS history, the swim team is going to not be practicing with Austin High. We started practicing with Austin High swimming at  the Texas School for the Deaf six years ago. Paige Robbins, alumni of the class of 2013, was the first swim team member and the person who started our relationship with the Austin High swim team. Previously, the coach was Mr. Drew Calver and he volunteered his time so that we could also learn, however this year he officially retired as a swim coach. The ARS swim team went from a team of eight to a team of sixteen this year. This is going to be my second year on the swim team and I am so excited to have another wonderful year with new faces and new memories to be made.

Our first practice was held Wednesday, September 6 from 6:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.. We got an amazing opportunity to swim at LA Fitness across the street from ARS Ms. Dicuffa hounded AISD very nicely even sending them cookies trying to make LA Fitness work because it is the perfect location. We get the pool all to ourselves, which is not common for AISD schools. Ms. Jill DiCuffa, a tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade STARS teacher at ARS is going to be the team’s new coach. Ms. DiCuffa has swam for most of her life and is excited to coach the ARS team.

Something unique about Ms. DiCuffa coaching the swim team is that she is going to be in the water for some of the time, showing us how to execute strokes and techniques. I think this is amazing because everyone learns in a different way and sometimes it’s hard to understand what your coach is expecting out of a drill or stroke when you can’t physically see it.

Unfortunately, we could were not able to use the pool for our first two practices, so instead we did “drylands”. Drylands swim workouts on the ground, which is different for swimmers since we are normally in the water. Even though we had to workout outside of the water for a couple days, everyone still had a smile on their face and had a good attitude about the things we were doing. Ms. DiCuffa is so involved and even does the workouts with us. She always has a smile on her face and an upbeat personality.

Although we may not be the biggest team, I am so happy that we are growing more and more each year. We are like a family, and we may be small, but we have the spirit of a hundred swimmers. I hope that this year all of the new swimmers will feel included and enjoy the family we have created. We are not part of the Austin High team anymore, we are still trying to keep some of the traditions for the seniors. For example, we are keeping the gift of embroidered towels at the banquet, as well as the senior slide show and peer speeches.

Last year, Shilah Chhadua was the only senior and unfortunately couldn’t make it to the banquet. We decided to still videotape the peer speeches to send to her. In the speeches we talk about our favorite memories with the seniors, how they helped us, and all the ways they are amazing. This is very important to the seniors and other swimmers because it is like our formal goodbye and parting wishes.

All in all, I am looking forward to this upcoming year in swim. We are constantly growing, and becoming better each year. I am so excited to cheer everyone on during our first meet in October. I hope that while we are at the meets this year you will be wishing us luck.

ARS swim team posses for their first team picture after finishing the first day of practice. Photo by Jill Dicuffa.