Girls’ swim team makes splash at regional meet


Caroline Scott

The girls swim team celebrates after Saturday’s meet.

The girls’ regional swim team showed off its speed by placing second in the region at the championship meet at Lake Highland Preparatory School on Saturday. 

Managing to get second with eighteen girls with Lake Highland carrying the majority of its swimmers to regions, it’s always a big deal,” senior team captain Layla Auter said. “It’s very exciting.”

Auter participated in the 200 free relay. She and her teammates ranked high enough in the event to qualify for the state meet.

“This year, I knew we had a chance at the state championships for our 200 free relay, so I put all of my focus and effort into that,” she said.  

While racing against rival teams, she said the swimmers also had to combat colder weather. 

“Outside of the pool, you could call it nice, but when you’re soaking wet and there’s a lot of wind chill, it’s really cold,” she said. “One thing about it being really cold, or at least for me, it makes my chest tighter, so it makes it harder to breathe and focus. But at the same time, it wakes your muscles up and you get a lot of adrenaline, so you can either go really fast or just have a really bad race.”

Auter said the lower temperatures did not bode well with her goggles. 

“Cold water,” she said, “fogs up your goggles. Really fast. You have to make sure to put your goggles on at the last second, before they fog up, because you kind of need to see the wall sometimes.” 

Performing turns in an unfamiliar pool impacted the races as well, according to Auter. 

“We did have some swimmers have trouble with turns at that pool,” she said. “We knew turns would be a big thing going into this meet, and we worked a lot on turns for a week building up to regions … each pool is different, and even though the distances are supposedly the same, there is a little difference.”

Auter said an advantage of the pool was its blocks, equipped with adjustable wedges, allowing for a stronger dive into the water. 

“It gives you a harder push off, so you get a much farther and more powerful start out of it. It definitely helps to shave off seconds. They’re kinda funny to use, though.”

In addition to adjusting to a different pool, teams had to adjust to coronavirus protocol. Eighth-grader Nicole R. attended the regional meet for her second time, said she looked forward to the opportunity to display her improvement but at first had misgivings about Regionals due to COVID. 

“Last year was a lot of fun, but this year when I did it, I knew that I could do a lot better,” she said. “I was getting ready for this all season, and I was really excited cause, like, over the summer, I thought it wasn’t going to be very fun because we had coronavirus, but everybody was very supportive and we were all excited, so it was really cool.”

The restrictions prohibited swimmers from cheering for their teammates on the deck during races. 

“Cheering is something I’ve definitely missed this season,” Auter said. “It’s something the team takes pride in, cheering for our teammates at the other side of the pool. It makes a difference when you’re swimming, even though you can’t hear it most of the time … it makes me want to go faster.”

According to Nicole, the people (and lack thereof) at the event affected her. 

“Last year, there was a lot less social distancing and stuff, and there were a lot more people, I think, because no one was afraid of corona,” she said. “But also, last year we had a lot more seniors. It was just different for me because I was really scared. But this year, I knew what was happening, and I was really prepared. I knew people on the team, and we all worked together, and it was a lot of fun.”

Teams pitched tents in a grassy lot near the pool instead of stationing next to it as part of COVID regulations, which complicated the proceedings according to Auter.

“It was hard to keep track of what event we were on,” she said. “It definitely led to some panic runs, realizing that your event’s coming up a little faster than you thought it would. We had to walk all the way around to the west entrance [from the east side]. We made sure to go up early enough to get a good warm-up in and stand behind the blocks, so we weren’t rushing around.”

Nicole said the setup caused initial confusion.

“It was a bit crazy at first because when we got there, everyone was looking for a spot,” she said. “We were all kinda nervous, because we didn’t really know how the meet was gonna go. It was kinda give-or-take for us. We didn’t know what to expect.”

Despite the COVID restrictions, Auter said she enjoyed the meet, one of her last with the school as a senior.

“I know for the majority of the swimmers, this was their last meet for the season, and it was nice to go out with a big bang and see everyone before we go to States,” she said. “Even though States will be my last meet for West Shore … I’m proud of the legacy I’ll get to leave behind and this team I see so much potential in.”

By Caroline Scott

Editor’s note: Brevard Public Schools policy prohibits the inclusion of middle-schoolers’ last names on district-sponsored websites.