The Aragon swim season ended on May 6, at the Peninsula Athletic League swim trials at Burlingame High School. The boys team placed 5th overall and the girls team placed 6th, both sending individual swimmers to CCS to compete in different events.
Freshman Brianna Huang qualified for the 200- and 500-yard freestyles, and senior captain Justin Sell qualified for the 50-, 100- and 500-yard freestyle events. Freshman Samantha Lee also advanced to the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard butterfly. The varsity girls and boys qualified for separate events as well. The girls qualified for the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays, the former of which hasn’t been achieved in many years for the Dons.
For the boys 50-yard freestyle, senior captain Justin Sell, the only Aragon racer in the heat, finished in third place, with a preliminary time of 23.07 seconds, compared to the first place time of 22.40 seconds, which was held by a swimmer from Carlmont.
Another impressive time came from Huang, who posted a 1:59.98 time in the 200-yard freestyle, earning her third place. Freshman Nicholas Finke placed fifth in the boys backstroke final. Furthermore, many of the swimmers who competed in the PALs achieved their new personal records, including Sell and junior Olivia Tobin.
Junior Kelsey Dobbs recognizes the team chemistry: “Towards the end of the season I think that our team came together and started working harder towards finals and that really made a difference in the season.” By having combined practices, the boys and girls are able to compete and encourage each other.
Compared to last year, the team enhanced its intensity because the swimmers that joined were more competitive, according to Dobbs. “They definitely changed our team dynamic into being much more competitive,” she explains, “Which I think helped us throughout the season.”
Within the past several years the team has grown tremendously. “We had to divide up practice times for the first time,” says junior Olivia Tobin, “You had to be much more committed to practices this season.” As a result, the team qualified for more events at CCS this year than past years.
Swimmers must manage the ability to compete independently while still being supportive and interactive with the team. “[Being a team can be reflected through a] team cheer before every meet, cheering for each other behind the blocks, and racing together on relay teams, which can often decide the outcome of the meet,” explains senior Justin Sell.
Sell also explains that in order to maintain and build team spirit, the team participated in outings: “[We had] team dinners, a team outing to ‘Twelfth Night,’ the pool rally, an underwater easter egg hunt, and end of the year water balloon fight and banquet,” he says.
Coach Bill Barthold, who has headed the team for four years, attributes much of the team’s success to the culture of the Aragon swim team: “[This culture] include[s] dedication, camaraderie, establishment or continuation of traditions among others, [and] is one aspect of Aragon Swimming which elevate[s] this team.”
The Dons competed at the PAL Bay Division Championship meet at Burlingame High School. Aragon had numerous swimmers place in the top three at PAL championships.
Barthold reflects on his team’s effort during the meet, saying, “Motivation in any activity can originate externally or internally. So many of the swimmers did not realize their potential. This is one area for improvement. By far the strongest form of motivation comes from within.”
The Dons excelled in the 2017 swim season, leaving spirits high for the 2018 season.