The Current

Making a Splash in New York State

An Interview with Mary Nichols of the Girls Varsity Swim Team on States Success

Maggie Ford, Sports Editor

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After consecutive dominant seasons filled with grit and fast times, members of the Ossining High School Girls Varsity Swim Team qualified for the State Championships meet, which they competed at in November, in Ithaca, New York. The Current sat down with Mary Nichols, an incredibly talented, yet humble swimmer, and leader on her team, to discuss the ups and downs of the season, the long road to qualifying for prestigious meets, and the amazing experience of competing at the State Championships.

From doing well in your league to Sectionals you had quite the run this season! Could you tell us what your final record was for the season and how you arrived there? Were there any really intense inter-league meets, or was it a fairly smooth season?

 

We were in a fairly competitive league this year, and our final record was 5-4. It was a really fun season with some big wins, tough losses, and a few close meets that came down to the last couple races. One of the most intense meets we had this season was against White Plains. We were tied about ½ way through the meet, and people from both teams were cheering up and down the pool for every race. As the meet went on, we started pulling away with the lead, but it was still really exciting to see everyone motivating each other throughout the whole meet, and to come out with the win too.

How were the different grades on your team able to contribute to the team’s overall success?

 

 

We have swimmers on the team ranging from grades 7-12, and swimmers from each grade play a huge role on the team and score points at every meet. You can notice it just by looking at the swimmers who qualified for States; there were two juniors, including myself, one sophomore, and two freshmen. It’s really cool to have such a big age range between all of the girls, and still come together and swim as one team and build close relationships with one another. One of the reasons I like varsity swimming is because there is no split between junior varsity and varsity, so we all get to swim together and be one big team.

So how did certain members of your team qualify for sectionals? Can you describe the work that went into it for you personally, and when you qualified for your events?

Many of my teammates qualified for sectionals at different times during the season; some qualified for many events in the beginning, some worked toward a time throughout the season and were able to make it by the end of the dual meet season, and other were so close to reaching the time and just barely missed it. For me, I qualified for Sectionals in the 200 IM and the 100 breastroke at our 4th dual meet of the season, which was against White Plains.

 

 

What was it like going up to Nyack for the Sectionals meet? Were you used to it from prior seasons, excited, nervous?

 

 

I think all of the girls were excited for Sectionals this year, and we knew that we all had good chances of making it back to finals the next day. Since we had already qualified for States, we weren’t too nervous about having the added pressure of this being our last chance to make it. We did really well at the meet, and were able to qualify for finals in many events, and come out with another state time in the 200 Freestyle Relay.  

For the freshmen and sophomores, were emotions running pretty high or were they fairly calm under pressure?

 

 

The freshmen and sophomores definitely hold their own in the pool, and most are pretty good at keeping calm and swimming really well under pressure. Many of us also have the experience of swimming on club teams in addition to varsity, so I think that most of us are used to the nerves and pressures of a fast meet or close race.

How did the team do at Sectionals? Any personal bests or state qualification times?

 

 

Our team did really well at Sectionals overall, with another State qualifying time and making finals in many of our events. We qualified for States in the 200 freestyle relay, and would’ve placed 3rd overall and gotten onto the podium if we had been in the A final instead of the B final. We also made finals in the 400 freestyle relay, Stella qualified for finals in the 50 and 100 freestyle, Emily qualified for finals in the 200 freestyle, and I qualified for finals in the 200 IM (Individual Medley) and the 100 breastroke. Our 200 Medley also did very well, and the swimmers in that relay were Tara Tassio (junior), Savannah McIntyre (8th grade), Sarah Desiderio (freshman), and Samantha Novo (junior).

Who were the members of the team that went to States and how did you qualify? (Any drama or surprise in the moment?)

 

 

The members of the team that qualified for States were myself, Samantha Novo (junior), Stella Meyerhoeffer (sophomore), Emily Rocco (freshman), and Sinceraty Alexander (freshman). Stella qualified for States in the 100 backstroke at one of our last duel meets, and the rest of the qualifications occured at our Conference Championship meet. That meet was super exciting, and we were all so proud of the whole team. We were definitely the loudest team at the meet. Our first race was the 200 Medley Relay, and we hadn’t thought we even had a chance of making the State qualifying time, but we did, and we were all jumping up and down and hugging each other afterward. We were a little surprised that we had made the cut, and I think that making the State time in this first race helped us get pumped up for the remainder of the meet, and one by one, Stella, Emily, and Sinceraty all qualified for States in their individual events. Lastly, our 400 freestyle relay closed out the meet with 1st place and another State qualifying time. 

Can you describe some of the experience of going up to States for the first time? What was the general mood on the bus ride up and on the pool deck?

 

 

The other girls and I were super excited about going to States, since it was all of our first times going, and the general mood throughout the whole weekend was super upbeat and exciting. The bus ride up was long but fun, and the mass amount of girls from Section 1 kept the hallway of the hotel very amusing. I think everyone on deck was both nervous and excited at the same time, because we obviously wanted to swim well, but were also just happy to have made it the meet.

How did the team do in prelims and finals? Any improvements between the two?

 

 

During prelims, in our 200 Medley Relay, we dropped about a second from our seed time and qualified for finals, which was a huge accomplishment for us based on the place we had been seeded going into the meet. We were super pumped about coming back the next day for finals, and it was a great way to start off the weekend. Unfortunately, our 200 Freestyle Relay did not qualify for finals, and our some of the other girls individual races were so close to making finals but just barely missed it. We had gotten 25th place during prelims in the 200 Medley Relay, and at finals, although our time was about 0.5 seconds slower than it had been the prior day, we were able to move up a few places in the rankings, and finished 22nd in the State.    

What was the most rewarding part of the experience for you?

 

 

The most rewarding experience for me this season was being able to spend time with all of my amazing teammates and make so many great memories with them, and also being able to swim well during our season. Our team is amazing in that we’re always congratulating each other on good swims and cheering for one another, even if we weren’t feeling our best that day. Also, our Coach is amazing, and is always the loudest one cheering on the deck. I know she was just as excited as the swimmer’s to have qualified for States this year. I got to make so many great memories on bus rides to and from meets, up at States in Ithaca, and at practices too. I’m super excited for my last season next year, since I’ll be a senior, and I hope to be able to have an even better season next year as well!

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