Positive team energy = positive results


Photo Credit: Laura Veldhof

Kaurina Sidhu

It was the final event of the girl’s 2020 OK Red Conference Championship Meet, which would determine if West Ottawa would win another conference title. The WO team gathered around the edge of the pool to watch four of their teammates swim the 400 free relay. During the entire race, every turn, dive, and stroke could be the difference between a win or loss. 

     Just before the final relay, the scores were updated to an app, Meet Mobile, that provides the teams’ scores during a meet. All the parents, coaches, and swimmers saw that Grand Haven was ahead of WO by three points. The girls swimming the relay knew they had to pull off a win to win the meet. They felt the pressure, and they saw the excitement on everyone’s faces. 

   By the time it was the last person’s turn to dive in, Grand Haven’s relay was ahead of WO. Lilly Brandt dove in the water and slowly started to catch up. Every turn Brandt had she grew closer and closer to her Grand Haven competitor. All the WO swimmers, coaches, and parents were screaming and jumping. It came down to the last 25 yards, with Brandt dominating the last leg of the relay, overtaking her competitor. They touched the wall and looked at the scoreboard to see West Ottawa won the relay!

   The attitude of the team on the pool deck affects the way the swimmers perform each race.

   The boys’ state championship also came down to the final relay. WO’s 400 free relay beat Detroit Catholic Central’s team by six one-hundredths of a second. Detroit Catholic Central’s team was equally matched with talent and determination, wanting the win.  This drive, along with the support and positive vibes from the coaches, spectators, and teammates, caused this to be a tight race to the finish.  The entire meet, the WO team had positive upbeat energy. The team has swam next to each other for so long, and created a strong bond, close to that of a brotherhood. They were devastated by their loss of the state title in 2018 and were determined to redeem themselves.

   In 2019 the Boys Swim and Dive team won the state championship. Coach Steve Bowyer said, “I think anytime you have a common goal you are going to have a better meet. The 2019 (state) meet was a lot of fun. We had a group of boys that supported one another and didn’t want to let the team down.”  

   The author of the article, “Is Swimming a Team or an Individual Sport?”, Ashley Illenye, agrees that the attitude of the team affects how a swimmer performs. “Swimmers compete for their teammates that push them to be better athletes in practice every day, for the coaches that have been their biggest supporters through the good swims and the bad, and parents who have given up so much to take their child to meet after meet, practice after practice,” Illenye said. 

   Swimmers aren’t swimming for themselves; they are part of a team that depends on everyone’s collective achievements. With this in mind, each swimmer races to the best of their ability. Swimmers have good and bad days just like anyone else, but they put constant pressure on themselves to be the best they can during the meet to help the team.

   “Overall I think happy swimmers are fast swimmers. Sometimes athletes can turn anger into motivation, but overall I think the more positive the environment, the more positive the meet,” Bowyer said. Getting along with teammates makes for better results and competition.

   “You can often tell by a swimmers’ body language whether or not they are into a meet or swim. I think to truly compete at your best you need to be focused and excited about what you are doing. Team negativity can play a part in that,” Bowyer said. When one member of the team is down or disappointed about anything, the energy of that one person can bring the rest of the team down.

   I have witnessed meets where there is drama between teammates and the whole team could feel the tension. It affected the overall performance of not only the individual swimmer but the whole team. As long as everyone on the team is able to cheer each other up and keep a positive mindset, the meet will turn out better than if there is negative energy on the pool deck. 

   Illeneye also expressed the effects of negative energy on the pool deck in her article. “If one swimmer is constantly being negative about the sport, putting effort into their swimming and racing will inevitably have an effect on their teammates. One bad attitude can plant a seed and sprout for similar bad behavior.” 

   Through many different meets and attitudes of the team, one message is clear: Team positivity is the key to success.