Girls’ Swim & Dive Hosts Last Home Meet for Seniors

Aliah Char and Alyssa Rash, Copy/Photo Editor and Junior Reporter

As the swim team’s season is coming to its end, the traditional Senior Night has also come and gone. This night is to represent all of the beloved seniors that are on the team and what they’ve done for their underclassmen. It’s also an opportunity for the seniors to thank their friends and family for all of the support given to them throughout the swim season. All seniors from Manitou, Salida and St. Mary’s were acknowledged and given flowers.

Though often rivaled in other sports by St. Mary’s, the Mustangs’ only competition at this particular meet was Salida. However, soon after diving, it became obvious that Manitou would take the win. Competing alongside dive captain Delaney Sawyer (10) and veteran diver Grey Symes (12) were two new faces: Lizzy Butts (11) and Abigail Kilpela (10). For Manitou, this was a new concept. The idea of having enough divers competing to make a difference in contributing team points has previously been nonexistent, due to the small number of divers on the team in former years. However, what the newcomers lacked in experience they certainly made up for in enthusiasm, making sure to cheer not just for their fellow divers, but for a majority of the swim team as well. Their excitement was expertly focused into concentration, as they prepared to take leaps in new directions, upping Manitou’s overall points with every splash.

Alongside earning team points, efforts were made by individual swimmers like Sydney Dolloff-Holt (12) to beat records. Dolloff-Holt’s older sister, Emily, holds a record of 2:15.04 in the 200 IM at the Manitou Pool. This meet was the last chance Dolloff-Holt had to break or tie her sister’s time at the same pool, as it was the season’s last home meet, and Dolloff-Holt a senior. Giving those 200 yards all she had, her teammates cheering her on the whole length of the pool, Dolloff-Holt finished the race in only 2:17.38, just 2 seconds away from her sister’s record. Though she climbed from the pool obviously dissatisfied, Dolloff-Holt was encouraged later on in the evening by her teammates’ kind words, admitting that despite being so close to Emily’s record, she was still feeling “proud” and “very grateful”.

Many competitors– including Aidan Coté (9) and Coco Stevens (11)– won their heats, contributing 6 points to the Manitou team’s total with each first place. Even as a freshman, Coté showcased her talent by having the fastest 100 freestyle time of the meet, beating Kaitlyn Cashdollar (12), one of Manitou’s swim team captains. Stevens also placed first in the 50 freestyle, alongside Lindsey Dwinell (10) who placed 4th and Téa Santos (12) who placed 8th. Other fantastic point-adding swims included Sofia Cirko (10) who got a 2nd in the 100 Fly and Bella Kuzbek (10) with a 2nd in the 200 IM.

By halfway through the meet, the mood was bubbling with anticipation. Though most senior honors came in the forms of speeches or tears– and the occasional rap– Stevens, the Spirit Leader, also bought seniors gifts. Managers received water bottles with their names on them, and senior swimmers and divers got towels.

“The emotional aspect [of Senior Night] really stems from the underclassmen looking up to their role models. It’s like the core of the night,” said Téa Santos, one of the honored seniors of the meet. “It’s kinda weird for me because I’ve never thought that anyone would look up to me, but then I joined swim. It’s nice because people think I’m a good influence and it’s cool that I can give others advice when they need help.”

Dolloff-Holt acknowledged that the MSHS team is closer to their seniors than other teams she’s seen. “I feel like all of the senior nights I’ve been involved in have been really nice because when you go to see other teams they don’t usually talk about their team members. They just give them flowers and say where they plan to go [to college]. I like the fact that we actually talk about our girls and take the time to recognize them.”

Cashdollar, the other Swim Captain, remembered what it was like to be an underclassman talking for a senior who’s looked up to. “I know I looked up to upperclassmen so much when I was a freshman, and those people encouraged me and pushed me to become the swimmer I am today. I know I wouldn’t have been the leader I am today without learning from them, and my only hope is that I’m someone that other swimmers can look up to and learn how to lead from too,” said Cashdollar.

After the senior acknowledgment, the girls went on to win the meet with 90 points, Salida in second with 66, and St. Mary’s in last with 30. Although being a senior may sound great because the end of school is near many other things are also coming to a conclusion. The team isn’t done yet, though. Leagues is January 31 and February 1, where the girls hope to take home first place. State is the next week, on February 8 and 9, where roughly 13 girls who have qualified in an event or as an alternate will compete for the last time with this year’s seniors.