From Grosse Ile, Michigan, Gold Medal winner Abby King has been playing soccer for as long as she can remember.
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Varsity Season Record: 9-0
Captains: Elizabeth Downing ’17 and Katie Weinzierl ’17
Highlights: Celebrating an undefeated season with an unstoppable team.
Athletic Awards: Most Valuable Swimmer: Katie Weinzierl; Most Improved Swimmer: Mairead Morrissey ’20; Spirit Award: Adjoa Tettey-Fio; Most Improved Diver: Amy Zhou ’19
For the girls swimming and diving team, each meet in the 2016-17 winter season began with an enthusiastic shout of "1, 2, 3, RESERVE!" and ended with a victory. From start to finish, the swimmers and divers proved time and again to be fierce competitors in the water and took home an undefeated record for their efforts.
"We had some tough competition this year," said Head Coach Katie Monroe. "It was similar to what we had last year, but this year, the depth of my girls was so good that it didn't matter. I could put them in any event, and I knew they would do well."
There were a few obstacles facing the team this season. Bouts of illness benched some key athletes and, as with each year, there was a considerable lull in practices during the breaks, as many of the boarders returned home with no access to a pool. Nevertheless, this did not slow them down and they ended the year with a 9-0 record and an impressive showing at the Canton JV Championship Meet, where 55 of the swimmers made new personal records.
For Monroe, it was a truly special year not only for the numerous victories from the girls and the boys swimming and diving teams, but because it was her fourth year coaching at Reserve.
"This group is pretty cool because I started with them, and, as a coach, that is kind of special," she said. "We've come full circle and, for the first time, completed a cycle. And a couple of the seniors started with me as non-swimmers and stayed with it."
She attributes the successful seasons of both her teams not just to hard work and athletic aptitude, but to exceptional leadership and an encouraging atmosphere within both teams.
"We had such strong team spirit this year," she said. "And I don't think the undefeated brought that on. I think we went undefeated because of that. [Elizabeth Downing and Katie Weinzierl] were captains for two years and it showed. The leadership that they have is tremendous."
Of course, it was not only the efforts of the girls swimmers that brought incredible results but also the divers.
"We couldn't have done it without the divers!" said Downing during a Morning Meeting in late February, which was met with schoolwide applause.
Weinzierl highlighted the meet against Twinsburg High School on Jan. 21 as a pivotal season victory. The swimmers knew it would be a ferocious fight to defeat the team they had only managed to beat last year by one point, especially with many of their key athletes out due to illness. With focus and determination, they pulled through, securing their win in the very last relay.
"This season was absolutely the best one out of all my high school seasons," said Weinzierl. "It was amazing to be a senior captain and see the rest of the girls grow throughout the season. Elizabeth and I honestly didn't realize that we could actually go undefeated until we had about three meets left. Once we did realize it, though, the team really started to focus and they all pulled their weight. I've never seen a team that was so selfless and motivated throughout the season. The girls made me so proud because they all reached their full potential and knew that they could accomplish whatever they set their mind to."
Per school tradition and as a special congratulation to the girls swimming and diving team for their perfect record, Head of School Christopher D. Burner '80 awarded the student body with a free day.
We commend the girls swimming and diving team for an outstanding season.
Varsity Season Record: 6-2
Captains: Elizabeth Downing ’17 and Katie Weinzierl ’17
Highlights: Winning the races against Aurora City Schools and the Twinsburg High School meet, which the swimmers won by one point.
Athletic Awards: Most Valuable Swimmer: Elizabeth Downing ’17; Most Improved Swimmer: Katherine Elkind ’18; Coaches Award: Elizabeth (Libby) Russ ’18
In her third year as WRA swim team coach, Katie Monroe applauds the girls swim team for a remarkable season, full of good sportsmanship, great energy, warm support for their fellow swimmers and valuable leadership.
One of the team’s most notable accomplishments was the meet against Twinsburg High School, which came down to a one-point victory in an exciting race.
“Our victory against Aurora High School was a wonderful moment too,” said Monroe. “It’s always fun to beat your former team!”
Although Coach Sophia Loferski was a new leader on the team, she brought a very technical background to the sport of swimming and was able to help the swimmers with starts, turns and stroke technique on a daily basis.
Diver Emily Smithberger, the only female that was able to learn enough dives to compete in every meet, was also a great advantage to the team.
“She displayed a consistency that does not always happen with newer divers,” said diving Coach Glenn Yorkievitz.
Monroe pointed to the junior swimmers as the strongholds for the team. Newcomer Megan Tam ’17 broke the school record in the 100 butterfly, a record held since 1991. Co-captains Elizabeth Downing ’17 and Katie Weinzierl ’17 proved to be excellent leaders both in and out of the pool. Additionally, a team of Tam, Downing, Libby Russ ’18 and Weinzierl took down the Medley Relay 1992 record at the Easterns swim championship this season. Although she was the only sophomore in that relay, Russ held her own with the seasoned swimmers on the team.
According to Monroe, many of the student-athletes will pursue training over the summer months, either swimming or weightlifting to help improve their swimming next season.
“I am ecstatic that they love the sport and want to continue to improve in a sport that is sometimes a bit lonely and very grueling,” said Monroe. “I am very excited for next season! We are maintaining so many great underclassmen swimmers that worked very diligently this season. I am looking forward to their return and believe they will have higher expectations for themselves in the pool.”