‘It feels like you’re flying’: Varsity swimmers reflect on start of season

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Photo credit: Paulina DePaulo

Archer’s varsity swim team competes in the Liberty League meet on Feb. 24. The meet was held at Van Nuys Sherman Oaks Pool. “All of us are really really good swimmers, so we did really well in the meet, and that was fun,” junior Paulina DePaulo said.

By Cadence Callahan, Senior Reporter

Archer’s varsity swim team’s season officially began Feb. 22. The team is comprised of 22 swimmers spanning across all upper school grade levels. As of now, the team has competed in five swim meets against other private schools, including Crossroads School and Marymount High School. 

Junior Paulina DePaulo has been swimming for almost seven years and swam for Archer throughout middle school. With this being DePaulo’s first year on varsity, she said the environment has been different compared to swimming for the JV team.

“Varsity swim has been fun. It’s definitely not only a larger team, but we also get to do a lot more intense meets. I’ve liked it so far,” DePaulo said.

DePaulo participates in a multitude of freestyle races during meets, including the 100-yard freestyle, 50-yard freestyle and various freestyle relay races. During meets, DePaulo said the team is supportive and encouraging of teammates before, during and after competing.

We have heats and events, where each one of us is individually signed up for different events and different kinds of strokes we’re swimming, or different lengths,” DePaulo said. “We wait and watch as the whole thing unfolds and cheer for our teammates, and it’s a super fun experience because we all get involved with each other’s successes.”

This chart includes information regarding the team’s recent meets and outcomes.

Similar to DePaulo, freshman Lucine Stephan is swimming for the varsity team for the first time. Stephan said the environment of swimming for varsity is different compared to swimming for a club team.

I’ve been swimming for a while now. I do synchronize swimming for a club,” Stephan said. “Although the team has been quite fun, it’s been more stressful compared to synchronized swimming.”

The team practices Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Monday, the practice is from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., on Tuesday, the practice is from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Thursday and Friday, the practices are from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. DePaulo said that during these practices, there is a laid-back environment that caters to specific preparations for upcoming meets.

I think being on a team, there’s an added element of everyone supporting each other, whether that be everyone coming to your lane and cheering you on when you’re swimming in a race or giving each other tips during practice.

— Paulina DePaulo ('23)

The number of people at practice varies. We do our warm-ups and then get into different sets in order to work on what we need to work on,” DePaulo said. “What’s really awesome, and what I like about the varsity swim team, is that now that we’re getting into the meet season, we have to focus on the specific techniques that we need to work on. We get to tailor practices to what we specifically need to do in order to get ready for our meets.”

DePaulo said Head Coach Wilma Wong and Assistant Coach Luke Pechmann are encouraging and provide helpful tips for improving performance.

“Coach Wilma works more with JV, but she’s really great at helping technically and getting people to a place where they can competitively swim consistently,” DePaulo said. “Coach Luke works with varsity a lot. He mostly has us do conditioning and swimming a bunch, and he puts a lot of emphasis on making sure we’re in shape and we’re able to swim for our meet.”

Sophomore Chloe Resnick, who is new to Archer, swims primarily for a club team and said she has appreciated the nurturing environment while also swimming for a school team.

“I swim competitively, so I’ve been swimming for eight years. It’s my first year at Archer, and the team and meets have been really fun because I’ve never been on a school team. So driving to meets on the bus has been really cool,” Resnick said.

In contrast to both DePaulo and Stephan, Resnick said the swim team environment has been less stressful than her club swim team.

“Everyone cheers for each other … if you accidentally look up, you’ll see people right near the end of the pool and they’re always cheering for you,” Resnick said. “When swimming on a school team, it’s more about fun and doing it for your team rather than trying to make certain times while swimming for a club.”

As for goals, DePaulo, Resnick and Stephan said they hope to improve form and beat specific times. The team’s first meet was Feb. 22 at Crossroads against Crossroads and The Buckley School. Despite the cold weather, DePaulo said she had a great time and enjoyed watching her teammates compete.

“That was really fun … it was the first meet that I had done in a really long time. While it was cold, it was also fun to see everyone in their element doing what they love and to see some people who don’t come to practice and train at the club also showing up,” DePaulo said. “It’s really great because they can also contribute to the team.”