Girls swim and dive team triumphs over Framingham



Members of the girls swim and dive team prepare for one of their many swim meets in the Evelyn Kirrane Aquatic Center.

A 43-year-long era has ended.
On Sept. 17, the girls varsity swim and dive team (GVSD) won their annual dual meet against Framingham High School, which took place in the Evelyn Kirrane Aquatics Center, for the first time in four years. Although GVSD has beaten Framingham at away meets, this was their first home win since 1967.
Junior Amber Mickelson, who has been on the team for three years, said that the accomplishment exhilarated the team.
“We were just really excited. It felt nice, especially because we got to have our big major victory at the beginning of the season,” Mickelson said.
Senior and co-captain Sarah Tanabe said that although the team was not aware of the 43-year streak prior to breaking it, they had already been hoping to win this meet.
“We knew that it had been a long time, and I knew that I had never swum them at home,” Tanabe said. “We didn’t really know about the streak, but we were anticipating beating Framingham this year. Finding out that we broke that streak was just an added perk.”
After home meets, the team stays at the pool to clean up and debrief the day’s events. As the swimmers sat in the stands, head coach Jim Stallings shocked the team when he revealed that they had ended the opposing team’s triumphant track record at the home pool.
“I don’t think that we believed it at first. We were really happy because of the win, and it was just another added bonus,” Tanabe said.
Tanabe, who has been on the team since her freshman year, said that this victory held some personal significance to her both because the team had lost their last meet against Framingham and because this was her first time swimming against them in the home pool.
“It was great. Not necessarily closure, because we have more meets after this one, but it kind of wrapped up four years against Framingham, who is a good rival team,” Tanabe said.
Stallings said that it felt great to break Framingham’s winning streak.
“Framingham has one of the best programs in the state and a great coach. They have a great squad, so beating them took everything we had,” Stallings said.
The team competes one to two times each week during the fall season and holds five to six weekly practices. Practices usually consist of a warmup and two main sets and sprints, but the team will focus on their turns, starts and relay transfers on the day before a meet.
“We are in the pool for 12 to 13 hours a week, working as hard as we can. We’re always pushing ourselves and always working hard so that we can win,” Mickelson said.
Stallings said that although practices are rigorous, the end result is worth it.
“If all of the girls hate me at the beginning of the year, then they agree on one thing: I push them to the absolute limits of what I can do,” Stallings said. “I’m mindful of what they can and cannot do, and where to push certain buttons for different swimmers, but I am probably public enemy number one from late August to mid-November. Although, after the girls look back and think about all of the hard work and what they were able to do, they like me.”
Before each meet, Stallings lets the swimmers ready themselves for competition by doing whatever is best for them.
“Every girl is different. For example, some swimmers want to talk beforehand and some don’t. We let them gauge what they want to do,” Stallings said. “They know when it’s a big meet, so we’ll say something before it begins and let them go. We’ll check in throughout the meet, and if there’s something that we can do, then we’ll do it.”
Some swimmers, like junior Audrey McKenzie, prepare themselves by performing specific routines before competing.
“Before a meet or before my race I like to be by myself for a little bit and just try to get into the zone. It is an individual sport, so I try to calm my nerves a bit and de-stress myself,” McKenzie said.
After their historic victory in the home pool, the team is optimistic about the future.
“Any time you can get a win against a great team like Framingham is one that you definitely want to achieve,” Stallings said. “We were very thankful, and it also helps us envision bigger and better things.”
Mickelson said that the swimmers want to further the team’s accomplishments.
“I think it’s just one stepping stone towards making this team do greater things,” Mickelson said. “We want to aspire for bigger things, and this is just one of the hurdles.”