The Léman Bulls Are Making Waves

By Eliana Friedman

Léman’s winter Varsity swim team has had a great start to their 2022-2023 swim season. With the coed swim team a part of two leagues (the ISAL and the ACIS), the team has had eight meets this year.
When joining any sports team, the reason for becoming part of the team always starts with the past. While interviewing a long time swimmer, Layla Khitin, she spoke about her childhood being the basis of her swimming career. “I grew up taking a lot of swim lessons, spent a lot of time at beaches, and was really competitive as a child. I wanted to be consistent in swimming and also saw the close and motivating community of my local swim team, so I decided to try out.” Layla’s passion to swim as a kid, then led her to the Léman swim team where she swam from 8th grade to the beginning of her senior year.
Team commitment is important to every sport, but especially Léman’s varsity swim team. The Varsity swim team requires a large amount of practice time each week, and on top of this, are the meets that the practices lead up to.  As a female swimmer on the Léman swim team, Clara Ferreira elaborates on the important aspect of team commitment by stating that the swimmers “Have a lot of swim meets; there's at least two or three per week.”
Practice is perhaps the most crucial factor for Léman’s Varsity swim team. According to Coach Nicholas Driskill (also known as Coach Nick), the head coach of the Léman Varsity swim team, drills run during practice call for ”Lots of technique… Like any other practice, precise repetition, followed by feedback and more repetition usually yields the best results.”
While the Varsity swim team has practices several times a week, the practices are either early in the morning before school, or after school. Seemingly surprising to many, the swim team has a common judgment of enjoying morning practices, rather than after school practices. William Caro, a male swimmer on the Léman swim team, is one who shares this same view when it comes to practices. He shares that “The afternoon practices definitely seem preferable because nobody really likes arriving at school at 6:45, though I think I wouldn't want to only have afternoon practices. The reality is that having four practices afterschool causes a lot of timing struggles with any other extracurriculars someone may want to take part in. I am glad that even while being committed to a varsity sport, I am able to have a few more days where I can spend some time elsewhere, or get home earlier.”
Swim meets are what the swimming practices and techniques all lead up to. In swim meets, there are four strokes performed. These strokes are freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. Swimming competitions are part of the learning experience, and with Léman’s Varsity swim team already competing in four meets in each the ISAL and ACIS leagues, swimmers have developed a rhythm for what a meet is really about.  Although the swim team is coed, boys and girls have separate competitions in their leagues. While the ISAL league doesn’t announce scores until championships, both the boys and girls have a great current record in the ACIS league.  The girls have a record of 3-1 and the boys have a record of 2-2.
Just like a court in Basketball or Volleyball, swimmers and coaches always have a preference between home meets which might grant better results, or perhaps away meets are better for the team. In this case, Coach Nick is confident that Home meets are more beneficial to the team dynamic and the swimmers. “There is a lot of prep time involved to set up the meets and run them, however it beats having to sit through unpredictable NYC traffic on the way to an Away meet. I may be biased, but I also prefer Léman's pool compared to those that we swim at during Away meets.”
The added stress of traveling to another school takes away from the calm prepping that is crucial for each of the races and relay swimmer’s perform in. In preparation for these stressful events, it is encouraged by coaches for every swimmer to have a personal ritual. These rituals or traditions may vary, depending on what works for each individual. For Layla Khitin, it was helpful for her physical preparation to “make sure to get a full night's sleep, eat a healthy breakfast, and stretch.” A mental trick Layla found  “was visualization. I would visualize my dive, my dolphin kicks, my turns, and my last strokes in advance, which helped me to mentally prepare myself to use my training to the fullest in my race.” She also added that “right before races, I did dynamic stretches to warm up and had pep talks with my teammates and coaches.”
Léman’s Varsity swim team has a busy schedule for the end of this year's winter season, and you should make sure to check out one of the meets!