The Berkeley High School swim team soaked in the sun on Friday, 14 April, 2023 as they huddled beside the San Leandro High School outdoor pool. John Mcdonald, one of the team’s head coaches, stood with the athletes as he gave some supportive final words: if any team member were to swim with enough effort to need help getting out of the pool, he’d be the first one there to proudly help them out. After energetically chanting “Juice the Jackets,” BHS swimmers cheered and kicked off the swim meet.
Over the next couple of hours, swimmers shot back and forth through the pool in both relay races and general races of varying lengths. Teammates, friends and family members cheered from the bleachers as BHS won one race after the other.
“Not only do we have talented swimmers, but we have swimmers who are getting better even though they’re already really good,” said Margaux Vuillequez, a junior on the team.
Charlotte Livermore is a sophomore who swims for both BHS and club. She highlighted a particularly unique aspect of swimming. “I’ve played soccer,” said Livermore. “It’s a lot more competitive with people on your team. … I’m just a competitive person. So I’d get hella mad. But with swimming, it’s more competitive with myself because, like, I want to break my time.” Livermore was happy about the results of her races. “I’ve dropped a ton of time and I’m three seconds away from breaking the one-hundred meter (breaststroke) time.”
Annamaria Acosta-Ferezi, a junior on the team, explained how the individual competition of swimming can be less stressful and more constructive as compared to the competition present in other sports. “(Swimming) has been a mostly positive experience, because it’s an outlet for my anxiety. So it’s helped me do better in school, I feel more relaxed,” she said.
As the sun set and the BHS team cheered around the pool at the San Leandro swim meet, it was clear that each swimmer shared an equal amount of care for not only the sport, but the team itself.