Middle school swim fosters ‘love for the sport’ despite cancelled championship


Photo credit: Archer Athletics

English teacher Wendy Deming joins the middle school swim team for their pre-meet breathing circle.

Since joining the Pacific Basin League [PBL] in 2011, the middle school swim team has won five PBL championships and placed second the other two years. This year, the team continued defending their title by winning almost every event. Then, the league final was cancelled due to fires.

“I saw the team grow, and I think that everyone really performed their best during the time that we did have,” eighth grader Amelia Hines said. 

This year, team members competed in events showcasing a variety of strokes: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle and medley relays. Despite these events being individual, the team was able to bond.

“We get pretty close knit after how cold we all are … there’s a lot of penguin huddling during practice,” seventh grader Charlie Clayton said, describing the experience after being in the pool.  

The team was coached by Stephanie Ferri, and Wilma Wong was the assistant coach. As coach, Ferri tried to create a supportive environment for both new and returning swimmers alike.

“Middle school swimming is really about fostering a love for the sport,” Ferri said. “We want to make it a positive experience for the girls, and it’s great to win, and we definitely strive to race our best, to improve our times and be competitors, but when it comes to competing, we try to have fun doing it, and I think that helps swimmers perform at their best.”

However, because of the recent fires, the PBL championship meet was cancelled. Ferri offered alternatives to the PBL such as Archer hosting the event, but ultimately the league decided to cancel the final meet.

“That meet is … our ultimate showcase of everything we’ve worked for,” Ferri said. “It provides the dividends of a season of hard work in training [and] in practice, so it was really hard for me to take [that] experience getting taken away from athletes who had spent over ten weeks training.” 

Upon hearing that the championship was cancelled, Clayton was “angry,” not so much for herself but for the team’s sixth and eighth graders. 

“I’ve earned the experience of championships once before,” Clayton said. “I’m disappointed that this year’s eighth graders didn’t get to have their last championship [and] the sixth graders didn’t get to have their first one.”

Hines felt proud of the progress she made during her last swim season in middle school despite being “disappointed” in the lack of a final. 

“I was happy not because it was cancelled, but glad that I had an amazing last season,” Hines said. ” I think I left the middle school swim team on a strong note.”