By MAGGIE MCCOTTER
The University of Mary Washington’s women’s swim team is currently, and has been for the past 28 seasons, reigning Capital Athletic Conference champions. These women are currently adjusting to a new head coach, as well as working hard to stay at the top of their conference. Currently, their regular record is 6-1, but 2-0 in conference meets. They are heavily favored to become champions again this year, but is the pressure of a 28 season win streak more than expected?
Michaela Miller, a senior majoring in psychology, believes, “this is going to be the best year of all of my four years here on the UMW swim team. The atmosphere is cohesive, empowering, and full of great teammates pushing each other to their limits,” when asked about her prediction for the upcoming season.
When asked if she feels any pressure from the school, or herself about the legacy, she stated, “yes, but not a negative pressure. I think that it is full of excitement and pride in being a little part of this long legacy.” Miller has been on the swim team since her freshman year. She swims freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly; she is also a mid-distance and sprinter swimmer.
When questioned about the legacy and if that has affected her performance, Miller said, “This legacy is something that we feel we need to uphold and strive for each year.” UMW is a school that does not always place varsity sports in the forefront of the students’ minds, so the feeling of duty and responsibility to keep the streak alive is found mainly within the team.
Miller did say that her coach puts pressure on the team, “but because he believes in us and knows that we can win if we push ourselves day in and day out. Hard work always pays off.” Justin Anderson is the new head swim coach at UMW this year, but by looking at record alone, it seems as though whatever he is doing with the team is working well.
Makenzie Katzer, a junior majoring in biology, shares some of the same sentiments as Miller about the legacy. “I feel that this legacy has caused me to take my swimming more seriously, with the realization that each member of the team plays a key role in keeping the streak alive. We take pride in our legacy, but we know that we cannot take it for granted, as other CAC teams have been posting impressive in-season times and the CAC title is a highly sought-after achievement.”
Katzer also believes in Anderson and the path he is currently taking the program down. “Coach Anderson encourages us each and every day to push ourselves past our limits and be competitive not only in dual meets but also in day to day practices. He is proud of the program that he has been chosen to lead, and, as an alumni of the team himself, he places a high importance on maintaining the legacy of the program.”
Katzer, who swims breaststroke and freestyle in mid-distance events, doesn’t feel as though the school puts pressure on the team, but, “the common assumption that we will win each year causes us to place more pressure on ourselves and makes us hold ourselves to higher standards. Personally, I would also really like to continue this streak because if we win CAC’s this year and next, our banner will be filled the year that my class graduates.”
The banner is prominently displayed at the Goolrick Aquatic Facility and there are only two spots left to fill until all the space is gone. It is also right in front of the lanes, so the swimmers can see the legacy of those before them and the possibility of glory for the upcoming season.
Clearly, the legacy of the UMW women’s swim team is a motivator and not a deterrent of hard work. The amount of pressure placed upon the swimmers seems to be the exactly right amount because of the success the team is having in regular season and conference meets. The women’s and men’s swim teams will be back in action for a weekend-long invitational at Franklin and Marshall from Nov. 16-18, their first invitational of the year.