Underclassmen vital to swim team success

Sophie Epstein

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Diving into the water, freshman Emma McCarthy practices in preparation for Junior Nationals next week.

The underclassmen on the girls’ varsity swim team will have to carry an unusually heavy load this year if they hope to make a splash in the MCAL.

The team’s strongest rivals are Marin Catholic, which beat Redwood in a meet on March 2, and Tam. The Redwood team beat Drake last Friday, and is competing against San Rafael today.

Freshman captain Emma McCarthy is the fastest on the team in her events, and will be competing in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle events at the spring Junior National competition, which takes place from March 20-24 in Orlando, Florida. McCarthy said that she will later try to qualify for the more competitive winter and summer Junior National events.

Because McCarthy has been focusing on the upcoming Junior National event, she has not yet been able to compete in a school meet.

Head coach David Winters said that he is not worried by the team’s loss to Marin Catholic because some of its best swimmers weren’t able to compete.

“Tam and Marin Catholic are really strong and so are we,” he said. “So it’s probably going to get down to a three-team race.”

Emily Josef, senior captain, said the team will be trying to defend its MCAL title, but that Tam and Marin Catholic pose serious threats.

“We won MCALs [last year] which was a little bit of a surprise,” she said. “This year we’re not favorites to win MCALs, but we weren’t supposed to win last year and we did, so that’s motivating for us this year.”

Josef said that the team is young, as it was last year, but that this year’s team has unusually fast underclassmen to make up for the lack of older swimmers.

Some of the team’s swimmers, including McCarthy, practice with the Redwood team only once a week, and practice the rest of the time with their club teams. Though McCarthy spends the majority of her practices at North Bay Aquatics, Winters said she still has a positive effect on the school team.

“She’s a great person, she’s really good with people,” Winters said. “She’s a really good communicator, and really energetic.”

McCarthy said that her goals for the season are to win the 200 and 500 freestyle events at the MCAL meet, as well as to place in the top eight at NCS.

McCarthy practices nine times a week: twice on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and once every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Despite the intense schedule, she said that after seven years of swimming, she still loves her sport.

“I just want to improve my technique and keep having fun with it,” she said. “I love it, I always have a blast when I’m in the pool.”

Winters said that the team stresses development of leadership for all ages. The girls’ team has a captain from each grade: McCarthy and Josef are the freshman and senior captains, respectively, Ariana Traub is the sophomore captain, and Emmaline Meill is the junior captain.

“On our team, it’s not a one man show,” Meill said. “Dave has all the swimming expertise and handles all the logistics. We team captains handle all the spirit and morale and dedication to the team.”

Meill said that, as a captain, she tries to foster a positive and welcoming atmosphere.

“When I was a freshman, I was scared to death of the seniors,” she said. “It’s just little things, like hopping in a lane with someone I don’t know and making a new friend.”