Photos by Grace Silcox
Senior Nicole Bastian gasps for air in her 100-yard breaststroke on October 10, finishing the race in first place with a time of 1:08.14. This was a 1.49 second improvement from the Oakland County Meet five days prior.
The girls swim and dive team placed ninth out of 32 teams in the Oakland County meet, one of the three biggest meets of the year, on October 5. Not only did the swim and dive team improve seven spots from last year but also beat cross-town rival Seaholm by 20.5 points.
“Oakland County was an exciting meet with a lot of improved times and incredible diving. Beating Seaholm at counties was a highlight of the season so far. Even though we later lost to Seaholm in the dual meet on October 10, we had many first place finishes at that meet, ” swim coach Laura Searle said.
Senior co captain Nicole Bastian was one of those first place finishers with a first in the 100 breast against a particular Seaholm swimmer whom she competed against before.
“Going into it I knew it was going to be a close race because the girl I was up against, Kate Stanley, is a good swimmer. So going off the blocks I was super excited. I was ready to go as fast as I could,” Bastian said.
After the first 50, the two close and going in to the third 25 Bastion and Stanley we’re still head and head.
“Coming out of the turn into the fourth 25, I picked up my speed. I kept thinking ‘I’m not going to let her win’.
Bastian touched Stanely out by .2 seconds.
Searle was impressed with Bastian’s determination during the Seaholm meet and noted that the girls beat out Seaholm in events they previously had lost to this cross-town rival, winning 7 events against Seaholm this year vs only winning 1 last year.
“The medley relay was the pivotal moment of that meet because last year they beat us by quite a bit, so they weren’t expecting us to come out as strong as we did,” Searle said. “I don’t think we’ve beaten Seaholm in a relay for many years. Winning only one event against Seaholm in diving last year, Seaholm didn’t expect us to come out as strong as we did.”
Senior diver Ellie Chalifoux’s first place at the Seaholm meet this year was no surprise.
“She has gotten first at every dual meet, and watching her dive is pretty incredible,” Bastian said.
Bastian said the difficulty and precision of Chalifoux’s dives can make watching her perform both enthralling and slightly terrifying.
“There's been a few times, honestly, when watching her dive is scary because, from where you’re sitting, it looks like she’s going to hit the board, but then she enters the water and there's no splash or minimal splash and her form looks really good,” Bastian said.
Chalifoux herself feels the anticipation before each dive, especially as her dive is announced and she waits to execute what she has practiced for so long. During the Seaholm meet, she tried to remain stoic as she walked onto the board and the announcer said “Ellie Chalifoux, 105C, front 2 and one half somersaults tuck dd 2.4”. Her fellow teammates, clapped their hands on their legs twice and once together to support her.
“I looked at my diving coach, Matt, and he slightly nodded his head. I turned back to face the windows and took a breath, reminding myself to keep a pace, telling myself, ‘Don’t get anxious. Line up tight.’ Then I started. One foot after the other, until my arms squeezed my head. I caught the board and rushed through the air, kicking out at what I thought was too late. As I broke the water, I looked at coach again to see his face amazed, and the audience went wild. I looked at the scoreboard and saw my results,” Chalifoux said.
Chalifoux earned 7. 7.5. 8.
“I have never seen anyone get an 8. I was so happy when I got out and received many ‘good jobs’ and hugs from my teammates," Chalifoux said.
Searle agreed with Bastian that watching Chalifoux dive is a thrill, and one of Searle’s favorite parts of the meets, including the dual meet against Seaholm, is how each member of the team supports each other.
“I love all the enthusiasm from the girls. They’ve never cheered so hard in their lives than at the Seaholm meet, and the race between [sophomore] Karen Austin and the girl from Seaholm in the 100 back was intense,” Searle said.
The race between Austin and the Seaholm swimmer went back and forth the entire race, and the Seaholm swimmer only touched Austin out by .04 seconds.
“That’s 4 hundredths of a second! It was a close race from the beginning, and, when they hit, nobody knew who had won,” Searle said. “Those are always really really fun races even if we don't win. She fought really hard and dropped probably almost a second from her best time so to me that was a really really good race. [Senior] Nikki Barnas in the 500 won by probably a length, a full length, but we’re pretty used to her doing that. Watching her defeat a Seaholm swimmer by that much was a good part of the meet too.”
Along with Barnas, many other state qualifiers--who include Bastian, senior Kiran Krishnan, sophomore Madison Helmick, sophomore Pauline Izydorek, Austin, and Chalifoux-- improved their season times at the Oakland County meet, and the team scored a total of 105.5 points, 73.5 points better than last year’s total. Austin and Chalifoux each scored a total of 17 points, pulling in the highest individual points for the team.
“Ellie brought in a lot of points for the team. She ended up scoring second overall out of 30 divers. Karen placed fourth out of 40 in the 200 IM, which helped us start off the meet on a high note. They definitely will be top competitors at leagues and states this year,” Barnas said.
Photo by Grace Silcox
Freshman Alex Mann pushes her body to its limits in her 100 yard breaststroke on October 10, ending the race with a time of 1:21.55.
With leagues next week, the swim and dive team tapers to save their energy for what they hope to be a successful end to their season. Leagues will be held at Groves on November 6-8, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Bastian encourages students and staff to attend leagues, the girls' last hurrah before states, especially as the great turnout from the Groves community during the Seaholm meet made that her favorite part of the season so far.
“We had a little tailgate in the parking lot, so we played music out of someone's car and sang along to that,” Bastian said. “ We ran through the pool halls with the two people in front carrying rakes to show that we were ready to ‘Rake the leaves’-- beat out Seaholm’s mascot: ‘the Maple Leaves.’ That meet we had the biggest student section turnout of any of our meets, which is always super motivational because the support boosts our confidence.”