Following tradition, Mount Desert Island High School swim coach Tony DeMuro hopped into the pool with his team Saturday afternoon in Orono to celebrate the boys’ team’s second straight state championship.
That all-in spirit is evident at every meet. Even though each swimmer is alone in his or her lane in each event, coaches pace the lanes and teammates cluster at the far end of the lane (during breaststroke races, the noise takes a particular rhythm as the cheering section waits for the moment the swimmer’s head breaks the surface of the water).
As the school’s principal has said, “the championships are a byproduct of the good teamwork. You just happen to have the set of circumstances that lead to a championship. But that’s the only variable. All of [the school’s teams] really work together to get to a goal.”
Many student swimmers have been training and competing together from a young age. Take senior Liam Sullivan, who has been setting state records since he was in seventh grade, as a member of the MDI YMCA Sharks swim team.
Of course, being a “feeder” for winning high school teams is not the primary mission of youth sports program such as the Sharks. Coaches, parents and the athletes themselves point to the positive, supportive culture of a club swim team as helpful for social and emotional well-being in addition to physical health. In a time of increased stress and anxiety for high schoolers, those are big benefits.
Congratulations to the MDI swimmers, who inspire the rest of us to persist in putting in the time and effort it will take to reach our big goals.