Varsity swim team aims for new records, gains endurance through dryland workouts


Photo credit: Wilma Wong

Lucine Stephan, Quinn Evans-Agard and Claire Doyle lift weights during varsity swim practice in the training center. The team practices five to six days a week, focusing on various skills and mindsets. “This year, we’re focusing on standing tall,” Head Coach Wilma Wong said. 

By Emily Paschall, Senior Reporter

Practicing both in and out of the pool, Archer’s varsity swim team is kicking off the season with an adapted approach to training: completing more group dryland workouts than ever before. Dryland practice is conditioning outside of the pool to improve performance inside the pool. According to David Grilli of U.S. Masters Swimming, “the scope of a good dryland program is to strengthen and stretch the muscles used in swimming.”

The varsity swim season officially began Jan. 23, and their first meet will take place Feb. 23. Varsity swim practices five to six times a week at either the Santa Monica Swim Center, Archer’s training center or Palisades High School.

Head swim coach Wilma Wong said the team’s training so far has gone well. Although they only have three days where they practice in the pool, Wong said they are making do by getting in dryland sessions twice a week in addition to the pool time. Wong said she aims for the dryland practice at Archer’s training center to be focused on strengthening the swimmers’ endurance and breathing control.

We are doing more dryland this year than ever, and I feel like they’re bonding in a greater way. The goal is to get them as connected as possible, and I thought it was a great start to the season where they are connecting in a huddle and becoming a team,” Wong said. “That’s my goal — for everybody to feel like they belong and have fun while they’re belonging and working hard.”

Freshman Olivia Hallinan-Gan is new to varsity swim at Archer but has previous swimming experience through a club swim team outside of Archer. Hallinan-Gan said she already feels connected to different students on the team, even though she only attends practice once a week.

Archer is such a wonderful community, and you can see that reflected through the swim team,” Hallinan-Gan said. “I don’t go to a lot of the practices because I’m on a separate swim team outside of it, a club team, but still even going to one [practice] a week, I feel so included and welcome by the juniors and seniors who have been on the team all year.” 

Wong’s main technical goal is for each swimmer to achieve a new best times in their respective races. Wong said when a swimmer has a big breakthrough and carries out a new best time at a meet, she feels the excitement of the moment and loves watching. In order to train the swimmers and have these breakthroughs, she has the team row, sprint and do breathing exercises during dryland practices.

“We’re doing a lot of rowing this year so that we can get them in condition fast. So when they get in the water, they’ll have the endurance to continue swimming fast, even throughout a 100, or 200 or even a 500 swim,” Wong said. “The goal for them is to be faster than they were last year.”

This year, we’re focusing on standing tall. That’s my theme — standing tall, getting everybody to have great posture… and standing tall as women and as girls, standing into our power.

— Head coach Wilma Wong

Senior Lily Prokop has been a member of the swim team ever since she joined middle school swim in seventh grade. Prokop said the dryland workouts she has attended have increased her strength and endurance.

I think a lot of the arm workouts are especially hard, ” Prokop said. “I really did enjoy going to dryland practice, and I was sore for the whole weekend after, so you know it is doing something.”

Prokop said that the swimmers on the team are supportive and always willing to help one another. She said this encouraging environment they have all created within the team will benefit each swimmer individually as they begin competing in meets.

I think it’ll help improve our mindset and generally how we feel as a team going into meets,” Prokop said. “Especially swimming against a team that we have lost to in the past or [if we are] are losing the meet, I think it is really helpful to have a supportive team, and it makes it a lot more fun.”

Wong selected standing tall physically and being strong mentally as this season’s theme. Wong wants to incorporate this through her coaching, especially in preparation for the upcoming California Interscholastic Federation meet. Wong said she wants to focus on making sure the swimmers can control their mindset and maintain good posture and confidence during all the upcoming meets.

This year, we’re focusing on standing tall. That’s my theme — standing tall, getting everybody to have great posture because the better posture you have when you stand is better posture when you swim. Then you are stronger because of it,” Wong said. “So it’s a great metaphor for just standing tall in general and standing tall as women and as girls, standing into our power.”