Photo courtesy of James Schapiro
Being a swimmer at Greenhills is no easy task. Apart from the difficulty of the actual act of swimming, some challenges facing Greenhills swimmers include: a tri-school team, ever-changing covid restrictions and a co-ed team.
The Greenhills swim team is actually a team made up of swimmers from three different schools: Father Gabriel Richard (FGR), Whitmore Lake, and of course, Greenhills.
Having a team made up of students from different schools can cause concerns about team chemistry. However, there are a lot of unique benefits to having a team made up this way.
“Being on a team with another school is really fun. It’s a great way to meet other kids and branch out from the usual group of people that you surround yourself with,” said varsity swimmer Anika Bery ‘24.
Though the idea of not going to school with all your teammates seems like it could create issues, it can sometimes be nice for the athletes.
“While I love my teammates, I need a break from seeing them all day, everyday,” said Bery.
Moving past team chemistry, another challenge having a team made up of students from three schools poses is scheduling.
“Our team has three different school schedules, so it can be a logistical nightmare sometimes,” said varsity swimmer James Kluge ‘23.
The logistics being so complicated means that some students must compromise. The team practices at Whitmore Lake, which is convenient for students who attend Whitmore Lake,. However, it is a 15-minute drive for both Greenhills and FGR students. This can be difficult for the students when practices fall right after school, and even more inconvenient if a student has a lot of schoolwork or doesn’t have their license.
“When I was a freshman and a sophomore it was a lot harder to get to practices because all us underclassmen didn’t have the ability to drive ourselves. I remember being late to countless practices as well as getting home late after practice because I would have to wait for my ride to come get me,” said varsity swimmer Leo Applegate ‘23.
It isn’t all bad though. The team faces all these hurdles together, creating a special type of bond.
“Part of our culture is being this unique, co-ed, three school team and helping everyone grow regardless of outside ties. We’ve learned to embrace the quirkiness, and I couldn’t see us any other way now,” said Kluge.
For most high schools, the men and women swimmers compete separately. At Greenhills however, the swim season is co-ed, falling in the time where other Michigan high schools would have just the men’s season.
“If there was enough interest for women’s swimming, I think that for the whole girl’s’ team it would be awesome to have a separate team because in meets we would have more people to actually compete against, and we would not have to make men’s cuts for championship meets,” said Bery. “There are still some women who can make the guys’ cuts, but it is harder than if we were to have to just make the cuts for women,” said Bery.
Though being on a co-ed team can make the sport challenging, there are also positive aspects of a team made up of both women and men.
“Being a girl on a co-ed team is something that I actually enjoy. The other two sports that I do are also co-ed, and I find that being on a team with the men gives me more of an opportunity to push myself,” said Bery.
Shifting gears from some of the unique challenges that Greenhills swimmers face, a challenge that affects all swimmers is the coronavirus pandemic.
“Covid was probably our toughest opponent all of last season,” said Kluge.
The swim season started two weeks late, and meets didn’t start for much time after. Even after meets had resumed, there were still many challenges due to Covid.
Kluge also mentioned how the team was unable to bond at all outside of practice and competition and how huge morale boosters like banquets after league meets didn’t take place.
“Even when we got back in the water, we had to devise a spacing system within the pool to be safe. When one of the team got Covid, we took all the precautions necessary to keep our communities safe and be there for each other,” said Applegate.
As we look forward to this year’s swim season, and its unique challenges, covid has done nothing but pose more. Nonetheless, Greenhills swimmers are as resilient as ever.
“As for this next season, some of the problems will persist like masking before and after races, but everything else should return to status quo. That being said, we’ve gotten used to adapting over the last couple of years and this season will be no different,” said Kluge.