Knight Times

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Knight Times

Knight Times

Swim And Dive: A Successful Season


Among ACP’s sports, one of our very hard working teams, Swim and Dive, had a great amount of success in winning their meets this season. The members and coaches make Swim and Dive look easy, but it isn’t at all. They put in a lot of time, effort, and dedication, and it truly pays off. One of their coaches, Coach Kristine Nelson, describes their team as fierce in the pool yet laid-back when it comes to team bonding. She further elaborates, “We fight through serious lactate and VO2max sets, multiple rounds of 50s, 100s and 200s, but take time to celebrate. Our theme this year, created by our Senior Captain, Tiago Wakefield, is ‘CONSISTENCY BUILDS GREATNESS’ which we are working to live out this season, still undefeated and working to stay that way.”

Motivation is key, and Swim and Dive gets motivated at practice. They play games together such as, “Underwater Greased Watermelon”, a game where you grease up a watermelon and sink it in the dive tank. It became a team tradition after they discovered it as a safe practice during the COVID pandemic. The team also has several bonding activities like dinners hosted by parents where they play foosball, water basketball, cornhole, and chess. Each class hosts one the night before a meet (taco bars, pasta bars, and multicultural themes are popular). Every swimmer and diver attends and is not always about the competition; instead, their team is unified because of six years of team culture and respect for one another.

I got the opportunity to interview one of the coaches, Mrs. Nelson, and as a coach she is most proud of this team for bonding together during adversity, going above and beyond for one another, and the unselfishness and friendship they all have with one another. She always explains, “We watch out for each other but also push each other in the pool every day. Our team captains, Ella Roy, Libby Thai, Tiago Wakefield, Grace Burns, Ian Kung, and Ethan Ruhl, share responsibilities and rise to the occasion whenever we have a challenge, a leadership need, or a role model as a teacher.” Improvements are always great, and Swim and Dive has advanced in several ways over the years. They have continuously worked to get everyone involved and value everyone, from the top club swimmers to the developing swimmers. Coach Nelson also says, “We  are extremely excited and proud of the fact that every season we have athletes that qualify and score points at the State Championship meet when they do not swim year-round. Many of our athletes run track, play soccer, play chess, or do triathlons in the off-season. A few of our most improved swimmers and divers this season are Ohm Patel, MacKenzie Mitchell, Denise Magarinos, Ethan Tsay and Kara Neilson. All have been working extremely hard in the off-season last year. We also have some of the top athletes in Arizona who swim and dive with a club year-round. They are extremely well-rounded and are able to swim any event or relay at any meet. This has improved our team’s versatility in so many ways.” Swim and Dive has also accomplished many things, their biggest one being the Higley Knight Invitational. This season, the boys won the entire meet and the girls took 2nd overall, combining their scores to bring home the first place overall trophy. Along with this, Saylor Debnam, Surie Feng, Abby Lawrence, and Adia Peterson broke a school record in the girls 200 free relay.

Divers Libby Thai and Riley Steinhilber went 1-2 for gold and silver on the medal stand. Kara Neilson also placed 8th with much-needed points, and all three of them qualified for the state. Coach Nelson states, “Ian Kung was our top point earner in the meet. He and Abby Lawrence both brought home gold medals in the 100 yard breaststroke in that meet.” Coach Kristine Nelson, Coach Carson Sundem, and Coach Charlie Pavlak are all extremely competitive, often creating ways to compete against one another and creatively design events in which the relays compete against one another. It builds excitement and pushes their athletes each week. They aim to carry themselves as the defending Division III State Champions with humbleness and hard work. Swim and Dive’s goal is to repeat as State Champions in 2023. 

Swim and Dive is a very phenomenal example of how the ACP family strives for the best. The team is built on the following: Every Swimmer and diver makes a difference! #SomethingSpecialBuilt #Family #SwimFast #DiveHigh

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