Middle school swim earns 8th PBL Championship for swim program


Photo credit: Kim Smith

Swimmers on the middle school swim team throw their hands up in celebration after winning the PBL championship. The PBL final took place at Palisades Charter High School Nov. 5.

By Surya Patil, Sports Editor

The middle school swim team dashed to the finish line with their Pacific Basic League championship win at Palisades Charter High School Nov. 5. Their victory marked the eighth time Archer’s swim program has won a PBL championship. The team remained undefeated through their season with wins against St.Matthews, New Roads, Wildwood and Windward.

Coach Stephanie Ferri and Coach Wilma Wong led their team to victory. The coaches held practice at Santa Monica Swim Center from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Eighth grader Phoebe Gustafson attributed much of the team’s success to the coaches’ dedication and their unique strengths they brought to the team.

“Coach Ferri is really nice. I had her as my mentor last year, so I’m really comfortable with her,” Gustafson said. “And then Coach Wilma helps a lot with the actual specifics and technique of how to swim.”

Sixth grader Nine Alitoro said although practices were tiring, she saw improvement in her technique and endurance as well as specific swim styles — freestyle and breaststroke.

“At first, when I swam freestyle, I could barely swim across the whole pool. I’d stop right in the middle, and I’d be exhausted. But now I can swim across the whole pool and not feel like I’m completely drained,” Alitoro said. “Coach Wilma signed me up for breaststroke for our second or third meet, and I was like, ‘That’s not possible. I can’t swim breaststroke.’ But then when I actually started swimming, it didn’t feel as hard.”

After morning practices, the swimmers were given the option to drive directly from Santa Monica Swim Center to Archer. Eighth grader Ashley Chan said that practices helped her improve her swimming and also gave her the opportunity to get to know her teammates better.

Before their PBL finals, the team competed in four meets and came in first place for all four. Chan and several other members set personal records during these meets for different events.

“I am excited for our meet next week. It will be the first meet the eighth graders have of the season since we were on Arrow Week,” Chan said when sharing her midseason goals before her first meet. “My goal for the meet is to improve my speed on specific strokes and improve some of them. [What is struggled with] is my breaststroke and backstroke.”

Alitoro, Gustafson and Chan all said the bond they formed with their teammates and the supportive environment the coaches fostered was the highlight of their season.

“Having all my teammates supporting me and cheering for me while I was swimming was my favorite part of the season,” Alitoro said. “People being so excited for you after you swim and saying, ‘Oh my gosh, you did such a good job,’ — it feels great.”