This article was originally published in ZU News.
The APU swim and dive team brought in six freshmen this year to join a team that sent seven total athletes to national competition last year.
Senior Alyse Darnall, the captain of the team, is looking forward to the season ahead of them.
“I’m really excited just to see how this team does. We have some really fast girls that have come on to the team this year,” Darnall said. “Swimming has been a part of our lives for a long time. For me, it’s been over 11 years and this is my last ‘hoorah’ in swim and in school.”
Darnall noted the misconception that swimming is only an individual sport.
“I’m excited to see how our team comes together,” Darnall said. “Swimming is an individual sport, but we do have to come together on a lot of things. In order for each of us to compete well individually, you need your team there supporting you.”
The team has been in the offseason since nationals wrapped up in March. Their season lasts from October through March, one of the longest seasons of any sport at APU.
“Going for six months out of the year, with doubles every day, gets really tiring and you get burnt out of the sport,” Darnall said.
To stay prepared in the offseason, Darnall practiced with her old club team in Oregon over the summer. She said that she also did a lot of CrossFit to stay in shape.
Darnall said she had a specific aspiration for the future.
“As a swimmer, there’s only been one goal that I’ve ever had. People always ask if I’m going to go to the Olympics. But the amount of swimmers that actually go to the Olympics is so small. I just kind of laugh when they ask that,” Darnall said. “My one goal is to go to nationals. I don’t care if that’s for a relay or an individual event, I just want to go for that experience.”
Darnall has been the leader of the team thus far, but she has gotten help from junior Nicole Johnson.
“Alyse is our only captain this year, so I’ve been helping her out with whatever she needs. Having that role of leadership on the team is good to make sure she isn’t alone,” Johnson said.
Johnson has been helping the freshmen get acclimated to the team at APU.
“So far they have all been really great. We’ve mixed up the lanes that we swim in with the freshmen,” Johnson said. “Just a chance to get to know them during a two hour practice has been really good so far.”
Johnson said she’s had fun getting to know the freshmen, but swimming in not always fun. She noted the struggle of balancing swimming and school.
“It’s really hard. I have swim, school and a job too. You have to have time management and wake up with a mentally positive attitude,” Johnson said. “Our coach is really gracious if we have to get out early to go to class, or have to finish an assignment.”
Johnson said that her motivation comes from the team’s success last season.
“We’re higher up in the standings than we were the past few years. Telling the freshmen that and telling ourselves that makes everyone want to work harder to achieve that goal at conference championships,” Johnson said.
On the diving side of the team, junior Rachel Johns has helped train two freshmen. The team is now double the size it was last year, with four divers.
“The freshmen are really great. Having two more people will be a good addition to the season,” Johns said. “Our team’s very close. During practice we’re all very encouraging, trying to help everyone reach their goals. We’re building off of one another.”
The team’s first meet of the season will be the Pacific Collegiate Swim Conference (PCSC) Relays and Pentathlon on Oct. 6-7 in La Mirada, Calif..