One GDS sports team that has seen the most improvement in participation and competition in the last few years is the swim team.
Led by head coach Tony Hurst, the men’s swim team will compete in MAC championships for the first time this year because of rising interest and participation from students. Through early morning practices to strenuous swim meets, the swim team has bonded this year through support, motivation, and teamwork.
As the GDS swim team has seen a rise in participation, the range of skill levels has increased.
“Our swim team’s skill and performance is directly a result from the club swimmers on the team,” said junior Tanner Martz, the men’s swim team captain, said of swimmers who compete on swim teams outside of GDS.
Additionally, the team has also included many first-time competitive swimmers. This has resulted in more novices gaining experience and great training through practicing with their more experienced teammates.
Women’s team captain senior Hilda Gitchell explained what she thought led to the team’s growth.
“I think it’s a very fun sport, a great way to stay in shape, and that our team is very supportive,” she said.
As with many other sports at GDS, positive experiences encourage new members to join too. For example, Gitchell’s little sister, freshman Carmen Gitchell, joined the swim team due to the positive experience that her sister has had.
Another new swim team member is freshman Deyaan Guha. Guha found out about the swim team through an athletic night, where students who are new to GDS meet coaches and current athletes. At this event, Guha said he was struck by how welcoming Coach Tony Hurst was.
Guha explained that he wanted to be a part of a supportive team that was inclusive and supportive. He said he also wanted “to improve and have fun.”
When captains Martz and Gitchell were asked how they had grown on the swim team, they explained that they felt that their leadership skills have improved.
Gitchell also explained that although succeeding individually on the team is important, supporting and encouraging other team members is also a fundamental part of the team.
“Our team is unique because of our cheers and support,” Gitchell said. “You’ll always see teammates cheering behind swimmers’ lanes cheering them on.”
The GDS swim team has grown due to its positive reputation of being supportive, inclusive and relaxed. Gitchell commented, “There’s much more of an emphasis on helping your teammates get better in addition to trying to get better yourself.”