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  • Sophia Denaro

A Love Letter to Holton Swimming

At the beginning of the year, I joined the Holton swim team. As a new student and a freshman, I didn’t know that many people, and it took some time to get used to Holton. I found this letter I wrote to the team when the season ended and wanted to share it.

My Love Letter to Holton Swimming:

I was looking through the Madeira meet pictures, and it hit me: I could recognize every single person in each photo! By name! I was so excited; you can ask Delaney. It was the moment where it clicked. I am part of an amazing family. Other people didn’t understand. I was showing a few pictures of myself to my friends, and they asked, “how do you know who is who? You can’t even see their faces”. But I could recognize everyone. The way her cap sat, the tint of her goggles, the little bit of face that I could see. I realized: this was my family. We spend hours in the pool together through it all: blood, sweat and tears. I love you guys; I know it sounds weird, coming from a freshman who has only known you less than five months.

Starting fresh at a new school (especially all girls) was difficult, I did not know anyone, and the fact that the school had a pool gave me hope. I wanted to be part of a team of girls who supported and loved each other. When Graham talked about the swim team he described it as if it were his baby; you could see the light in his eyes when he spoke about it.

So, when pre-season came around, I took that opportunity to meet people and to practice in the pool right away. Little did I know that I was joining a cult. We woke up at the crack of dawn and swam before school even started. Holding on to what I knew, I instantly connected with Abby Zimmerman and Emma Davidson, who went to the school I previously attended. They were so kind and nice as they told me about Holton and shared the similarities and differences. I thought they were the coolest people I ever met. During pre-season I also met Delaney. Let me tell you something; this girl is the most happy and bubbly person I have ever met. She would be so excited to swim at like five in the morning. Even when she was debating with Mr. Lynch to make the set easier, she was always so full of happiness. Delany was my go-to person, especially because I struggled with people’s names. She didn’t seem bothered that I went to her with every single question imaginable.

Oh! That reminds me of one of the first meets I was in. I was put into the 500 and then the 50 free, back to back, in the same lane. I got out of the pool and then immediately back on the block. It was one of the worst pains I have ever felt. When I reached the wall, I could barely move my muscles, nonetheless walk. I was in excruciating pain. It was to the point that my body couldn’t handle it, and I cried. No sign of stopping, tears poured down my face. I went to the bathroom to hide the tears that I could not control. In the bathroom I ran into Olivia Jubin.

I have always admired Olivia for setting records and being such an inspirational swimmer. I didn’t know her personally that well, but she saw me, and she helped me. She turned on the hot water and told me about lactide acid build up and that the warm water would help. Before returning to the meet, I gave her a hug, and it made me feel so much better. I stood in the shower crying for 20 minutes before I went to seek help because it hurt so much. She was the one who helped me despite not knowing me very well.

I also want to share a time in which Kate inspired me. I am not exactly sure when she told us, but she shared that she tried to get four kicks off each wall so that in a meet it would come naturally, and I was so impressed. I wanted to do what she did, so I took it to heart. I created an incentive. Every time I did three dolphin kicks off each wall and made it past the flags, I would say to myself, “Cha-ching!” It was like putting money in the bank so that in the meet I could take the money out and have amazing turns of each wall. She inspired me to work hard, and although it might be hard at the time, it will pay off in the future.

There is nothing like the Holton-Arms swim cult - I mean, team. There just isn’t. I feel comfortable to talk about anything with them, and there is nowhere else where half your team is at the other side of the lane cheering their hearts out for you, even if you come in last. There is no other place where you can just chill in Graham's office and rant about your day and have nobody judge you. There is no other team who will support you like the Holton swim and dive team will.

I love the swim team, and I will be sad when the season is over, but I know that you will all be there for me, and I feel like I belong. You are my sisters, and I love you all.

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