Gulf Breeze High’s swim team has been off to a strong start this season, racking up awards and practicing hard. At the team’s first meet of the season, Choctaw’s Freestyle Invitational, the girls swam out with first place overall and the boy’s team came out with second place.
Likewise, in a meet in Panama City, our girls brought home second place and our boys swiped third. Not only has the team competed in meets out of town, but also close to home in their own practice pool.
The Dolphins hosted a meet on September 13, with Pace High School and West Florida High School as their competition. It seems that having the home pool advantage had an effect on the team, with the GB girls’ and boys’ teams winning first place.
Upon reflecting on her first year so far with the swim team, Maren Mackey, a competitive swimmer since the age of seven, said, “The girls relay team looks very promising this year. Everyone has been doing well at practice and working really hard. We’re going to be ready for Districts.”
The team consists of 46 swimmers who wake up at the crack of dawn five days a week to practice from 6:30 to 8:00 AM at Hunter’s Pool in Pensacola, behind the Civic Center.
The only thing that stops the team from swimming is lightning, so the team is practicing even when the water is cold “Get comfortable being uncomfortable,” Head Coach Terri always says.
Not only does the team practice 5 days a week before school, you can find GBHS’s swimmers at Acceleration Fitness and Sports Performance twice a week after school for strength training. Once out of the pool or the gym, you can easily pick out swimmers from the rest of the student body by three main giveaways (besides the team t-shirts and goggle lines): wet hair, chlorine perfume, and often a quickly thrown together outfit.
Swimming as a sport is very demanding, being as that is a fast paced, full-body exercise centralized around the individual.
The sport does not rely on teammates for personal bests or learning how to pace one’s self. Competing as a swimmer revolves around how each swimmer performs separately, so the emphasis on technique and personal motivation is crucial.
Captain Rachel Benton sums up the sport’s stress on the individual saying, “when you’re swimming, you’re not competing with anyone else but yourself every time you get in the water. The only thing that compels you to swim harder is to beat the time you had before. It’s all about the timer and how you can beat it.”
Rachel is a seasoned swimmer, her senior year being the fourth year she’s been with the swim team. Like many other swimmers, she’s had to overcome the fear of cold waters and early mornings, but that is what makes the sport something she couldn’t have imagined her athletic career without.
GBHS’s swim team is motivated with a positive attitude and ready to win this season and add to an ever-growing trophy collection.
“Individual motivation is so important because even though you’re competing for yourself and for your personal best, every time you swim in a meet is a chance to earn points for the team and contribute to a win that day, ” said captain Michael Palermo