Shooting Star(Fish): Ann Richards Swim Team soars at District Meet


Ann Richards Swimmers enjoy downtime between heats at the UIL District Meet on Saturday, January 27th

On Saturday, January 27th at 9:45 am, the upper deck of athletic bleachers at the University of Texas’ Lee and Joe Jamail Swim Center was occupied by two people: Ann Richards swim coach Jill Dicuffa and team captain Georgia Moore (12). The team’s warm-up formally started at 11, but the pair got a head start on the day as a precaution, as both were attending the YMCA Youth and Government State Conference that same weekend.

Competition was in the air for not only ARS delegates, but ARS swimmers as well. The UIL District meet marked the end of a long season for some, (many swimmers beginning training in September) but the “Starfish” entered hopeful that one of their relay events–the 4×200 Medley, 4×200 Freestyle, or 4×400 Freestyle–could qualify within the top-six. Those who qualified could then move on to compete in the Regional meet in College Station the following weekend on Friday, February 2nd.

By the end of the meet, things looked grim, with no top-six finishes in sight. However, in a turn of events that shocked not only the team but Coach Dicuffa as well, two disqualifications in the 400 Freestyle relay meant that Ann Richards qualified for Regionals. In the past, the relays qualified by default due to the small number of teams in the 5A district, but this marks the first time the team has made the cut on speed alone.

That last-minute success, along with time improvements for nearly every swimmer and a few first-place heat finishes, marked the high point of the season. Featured below are some images preserving the stress and smiles from that exciting day:

Elizabeth Reyes (9) has her hair braided by teammate Jackie MacLean (9). Over the course of the season, Reyes’s development of her backstroke technique has led to her appointment as the backstroke swimmer for the 4×200 Medley relay team, as well as her placement in the 100 yard backstroke race. Photo by Georgia Moore (12)
Katie Ledesma (10) looks over the heat sheet shortly after warm ups to copy down her events for the meet. Photo by Georgia Moore (12)
Swim team coach Jill Dicuffa finalizes the relay sheets before the meet begins. In her first year coaching the team, Dicuffa describes swim practice as “the best part of her day.” Photo by Georgia Moore (12)
After the medley relay, Dana Nichols (12) settles in for the long wait for her event: event #21, the 100 yard breastroke. Despite being her favorite stroke, Nichols has only been swimming that event for one season, which she attributes to the focused attention given to the team by Coach Dicuffa. “I never got put in this [event] last year,” Nichols said. Photo by Georgia Moore (12)
Jackie MacLean (9) rehydrates and recovers after the grueling 100 yard butterfly event. Photo by Georgia Moore (12)
High fives all around as Maya Borowitz (10) comes first in her heat of the 200 yard freestyle. New to the team, Coach Dicuffa and Kelsey Atkins (12) believe that, with practice, Borowitz could succeed graduating distance swimmer Atkins as the team’s 500 yard freestyle entrant in the coming season. “Next year!” Atkins joked to Borowitz as she exited the pool after her last race in the notorious event. Photo by Georgia Moore (12)
Despite a lingering shoulder injury preventing her from competing in this year’s District meet, Lilah Hamilton (10) stands on deck to cheer on her teammates. In this picture, she was watching Kate Hall (9) swim the 200 yard IM event. Photo by Georgia Moore (12)
Calista Marquez (9) receives hugs and congratulations from her team after completing her 100 yard freestyle swim. Photo by Georgia Moore (12)
Notable for her animated personality, Ava Lindquist-Sher (12) laughs at a joke told by one of her teammates. Her first year on the team, Lindquist-Sher was awarded the “6 AM Smile Award” for her joyful disposition at the joint Ann Richards/Austin High School end of the year swim banquet. Photo by Georgia Moore (12)
Ava Lindquist-Sher (12) gasps as Addy Towne (10) tells her and Jackie MacLean (9) that her goggles fell off after diving in at the start of her 100 yard freestyle race. This disruption didn’t phase Towne, who continued swimming at a steady pace so as to avoid disqualification. Photo by Georgia Moore (12)
Coach Jill Dicuffa calls out encouragement to Kelsey Atkins (12) during her 500 yard freestyle. Photo by Georgia Moore (12)
Kelsey Atkins (12) hugs Lilah Hamilton (10) after finishing her last 500 yard freestyle of the season. Photo by Georgia Moore (12)