Freshmen fill and strengthen team

March 20, 2018 — by Connie Liang and Kaylene Morrison

Freshman swimmer feels the pressure to fill in her sister's footsteps.

Freshman Jessie Zhou shivered nervously behind the blocks on March 2 during an away meet against Monta Vista, gazing at the pool of swimmers racing up and down the lanes. The rain fell in sheets and the wet conditions were unsuitable, so much so that when Zhou climbed out after her swim, she was less than satisfied with her result.

“I was kind of tired so I didn’t do that well,” Zhou said. “I feel like if I had gotten more rest or tried harder during warm up I could have gotten better times.”

Zhou is only one of the talented new freshmen to have joined the varsity team this year. Due to the number of new swimmers, girls’ swimming is seeing a potential in filling the void left by star graduates such as Stefanie Ting and Anna Zhou.

Jessie happens to be Anna’s sister and said she feels the pressure to live up to her sister’s reputation.

“I’m not as fast as [Anna] or the other people on varsity,” Jessie said. “I feel a lot of pressure on me to be that fast.”

Though her times have steadily been inching closer to her sister’s, fellow varsity swimmer freshman Neeti Badve may just be fast enough to fill the gap left by Anna and others like her. Though she has only been swimming for five years at the club level, she has already qualified for CCS in the 100 free, 200 free, 500 free, 200 IM, 100 back, and 100 fly. At the single high school meet that has taken place, Badve has already qualified in the 200 medley relay and the 200 free relay.

Though achieving fast times comes with lots of praise and privileges, Badve has to deal with the stress of being expected to break her previous records and score points for the team.

[Being one of the fastest freshmen] is really cool and exciting but kind of overwhelming because I’m still trying to get the hang of high school meets too, like all the other freshmen,” Badve said. “Luckily, I have really great older teammates who help me and make sure I know what I’m supposed to do.”

Badve has many goals. At CCS, she hopes to place in the top 16 for the 200 free, and she says “it would be cool to swim in college, especially for a Division 1 team.”

Though Saratoga lost the meet against Monta Vista, varsity coach Christian Bonnor thinks that the swimmers did fairly well, especially considering the rainy weather and the fact that Monta Vista has some of the strongest athletes in the league.

Bonnor believes that, technical factors aside, the team’s most vital concern is maintaining its sense of camaraderie.  

Often times, there are drastic differences between individual and relay races, and it’s just a byproduct of someone being pumped up because there’s teammates swimming with them, Bonner said.

“So I think that the team could improve in terms of behind more behind people and cheering more when people are racing,” he said.

Regardless, the team has shown great promise for the new season.

“I definitely see a few of the freshmen as leaders, and I have no doubt that they’ll carry the team with spirit and positive energy,” junior Maddie Stuart said.