Preview: Swim Season to Face Transition Year?

David Misyura, Reporter

Thursday marked the swimming season’s first meet, and one can only wonder how the team will perform this year. The Mustangs Swim and Dive team has historically succeeded, and is likely to continue with that line of performance this year. However, with the loss of five elite swimmers, including Emily Dolloff-Holt (12) not being able to swim due to hand ligament injury, some uncertainty may arise.

The loss of the five elite swimmers from last year can mainly be attributed to seniors graduating. The loss of swimmers means that there is more room for some fresh blood on the team, which could be a positive change. Madeline Butts (11), an experienced diver, is optimistic about the new freshmen on the team. She said, “It’s gonna be tough, but I think the girls that we have this year are really willing to work for it and kind of take their place. I know there’s some amazing swimmers that are just ready to go, and I’ve seen in practice what they can do, and I think they can go really far.” Among the lost swimmers is Dolloff-Holt, who won’t be able to swim until January because of a ligament injury in one of her hands. But that won’t stop her from being a captain, and she will still attend all the team’s practices, meets and invites. “She’s still gonna be a really good team supporter and team spirit, and she’s going to be able to do just as much, but she just can’t be in the water with us,” says Sydney Dolloff-Holt (10), her younger sister. So even with the loss of some elite swimmers from last year, there will be just as much talent to fill the gap left behind, and even with Emily’s injury, the team will still have two supportive captains that care immensely for their teammates.

The team has only four year-round swimmers this season, contrasting with last year’s dozen. Like Butts said, being a year-round swimmer is very beneficial to both the individual and the team, “Because they get more experience if they do it year-round, and they’re able to keep up those skills, and then just come into the season ready to go.” Having experienced swimmers adds the individual skill that a team needs to coalesce into the combined form of a team, and the Mustangs Swim and Dive team is definitely one. Sydney believes that the relative lack of year-round swimmers won’t be that big of a deal, as she says the team has a lot more depth this season, thanks to the inflow of talented freshmen. Likewise, there is the belief that the team will do fine without many year-round swimmers, as expressed by Carina Villarreal (12), who thinks that the only thing that’ll change will be the relay teams, as they’ll have to find people to take the place of the previous season’s year-round swimmers. Thus, the gap left behind the team’s previous year-round swimmers shouldn’t be an issue, as there are many talented swimmers ready to take the helm of those no longer on the team.

Contrasting with having only one diver last season, that being Butts, this season brings more positive change in the form of five permanent divers, some of which who also swim, and one swimmer who’s looking at the diving position. “I think the increase in divers will definitely help, because divers are a huge part of the point system, and the schools we normally compete against, since they have more divers, they get more points, and so we’ll also be able to. Once we get all the dives required, we’ll be able to do better and earn more points for the team,” says Butts, who is enthusiastic about the influx of divers. Having more divers on the team should help boost the team’s spirit, as well as its competitiveness, as Butts stated, since the diving section success now rests upon several divers, as opposed to all the burden being lain on a single person. Hopefully these new divers will be able to attain the same level of skill as the swimmers have in their part, because once that level of performance is reached across the board for the Mustangs Swim and Dive team, there is no doubt that the girls will go far in the season.

Additionally, the team is in the 3A division this year, whereas they were 4A last season. This means that the team will go against more opponents in terms of numbers, and should alleviate a lot of pressure at meets because the Mustangs will be facing teams with more similar stats. Furthermore, the qualification times will also be slower for 3A state, so it will be a easier for the girls to qualify for state. Thus, they might have a greater presence at state this year, an exciting prospect. The team is thankful for this change, and they believe it will help push them this season. Sydney said that being in 3A will, “get us more fired up for this season, considering the fact that we definitely have the potential to be able to win state and league again. So hopefully we’ll be able to keeping pushing ourselves and get a lot more qualifiers this year, which I wasn’t able to do [last year]. […] even last year, a lot of our girls were getting really really close to state times, so hopefully we can definitely bring at least a dozen swimmers that are actually gonna swim, and that we can also bring as many to relays as possible.” This belief is shared by Villarreal and Butts, and likely to be in the minds of everyone on the team as well.

Overall, this new season of Swim and Dive seems to have a lot going for it, not ready to be brought down by the undesirable changes that have occurred. The team is positive it will be a great year for them. Sydney has been waiting excitedly to go against their rival, Fountain Valley, while Butts is especially ecstatic to have more divers and to see what they can do. Villarreal wishes to make her last season the best it can be for the whole team. “I just want to live it up, and not consume myself in stressing over times, but I want to make it as a team. More of a team than individual.” Therefore, with all the optimism among the members of the Mustangs Swim and Dive team, there can be no doubt that they won’t do their best with what they’ve got, and that’s themselves.