Swimmers earn board recognition for district, regional performance


photo or infographic by Katherine Lee

ON THE BLOCKS. Ready to start the race, senior Paige Greeney prepares to dive.

Standing on the block, she takes a deep breath. She looks around the natatorium and she sees the smiling faces of her teammates on the side, but she cannot hear their cheers over the sound of her blood pounding in her ears. All of the early morning practices and late night meets have led up to this one moment. She has two goals — break the record, place top six. She takes another deep breath, and as soon as the buzzer sounds, she dives into the water, and the noise around her comes to life.

In and out of the water, the Aquakats have made their mark on Willis athletics. At districts and regionals this year, many swimmers broke personal and team records. Twelve swimmers will be recognized at the board meeting tonight at 5:30. 

“It feels good knowing the path I’ve set for the upcoming swimmers,” senior Zach Clark said. “It was sad at the same time knowing I’ll never swim as a wildkat telling Willis but I could not let that get the best of me so I came to realize rather than being sad I should be glad of all that I’ve accomplished in my four years.” 

Small meets throughout the year are practice for districts and regionals, but district and regionals are used as practice for next years’ season and are used to mark progress made. 

“I think I will definitely get more competitive in our district and I could possibly make region in an individual event,” sophomore Kaley Hall said. “I was only two places away from going to regionals this year.”

SENIOR LEADERSHIP. Starting the meet off with a team message, senior Zach Clark speaks to swimmers on senior night. Clark is a captain of the team (photo or infographic by Katherine Lee)

For swim meets, all swimmers are expected to be on the sides of the pool cheering their teammates on, especially during meets like district and regionals.

“Swim meets like regionals and districts are a whole different atmosphere than our other meets,” senior Paige Greeney said. “We all encourage each other no matter what happens.”

The team practices in a heated pool in Shenandoah at 5:30 every morning. Whether it is below freezing or over 100 degrees, the swimmers are in the pool practicing. The swim team is hoping for a grant to build the district natatorium. 

“I run the twitter account and always try to highlight what the team is doing,” Clark said. “And every single tweet I follow it with #buildthatpool to encourage the community to vote to build the natatorium,” Clark said.

At districts, almost every swimmer broke a personal record, and many of the relay teams had set new school records.

“At districts I broke the school record that I set last year in the 100 Breaststroke,” sophomore Ashley Flowers said. “Our performance at regionals will definitely reflect on future seasons, the records and times we set at regionals will contribute to the goals we set next year.”

District and regional swim meets include teams from all around the Houston area. Many swimmers who swim competitively outside of school compete against swimmers who they usually call their teammates. 

“I am excited to finally be done, but this was my last meet which is bittersweet,” Greeney said. “My coach who taught me to swim is going to be there along with swimmers from other schools who I have swam with for the past couple of years. It is like I was ending it with people who have been there with me since the beginning.”

Each swimmer learned something from their personal experience at districts and regionals, and they will use what they learned in upcoming seasons. 

“I think that district prepared me for next season because I’ve gotten faster in every stroke,” freshman Briggs Cesan said. “But, the team will definitely need  to step up when our seniors leave.”

The hard work put in over the year was proven to be worth it at districts and regionals this year. 

“This year we went in with high hopes, and every single swimmer dropped time,” Clark said. “We walked in with a great mindset and we were not scared to go against some of the toughest schools in our district. I think this year is a milestone for Willis Athletics in general being able to go and overcome some of the difficult teams in our district. It was a great way to end the season.”