Concluding an undefeated season full of broken records, the ORHS swimming and diving team will compete at the NHIAA Division II State meet this Saturday, February 11th.
The girls and boys teams will take on the rest of Division II at UNH’s Swasey Pool at 4:45 pm. This season has been especially exciting for the girls team, who are rounding off an undefeated season as they head into States. Swimmers on the boys team have also made big accomplishments this season. After building a supportive team environment all season, athletes are hoping to break more records and achieve personal best times this weekend.
“Being undefeated is a huge confidence booster,” said Tessa Brown (‘24), a swimmer on the girls team. “I don’t know any names that jumped out to scare us.”
Teammate Laura Kelly (‘23) agreed. “The girls being undefeated is huge. That has not happened ever since I’ve been swimming.”
To win a meet, a team needs fast swimmers, but it also benefits from having lots of athletes to win the team points. Coach Bill Reeves said that one of the girls team’s biggest strengths is “the large number who have qualified for states. It’s not the largest team we’ve ever fielded, but it’s a solid team, so they should place well.”
Even so, “I don’t know if it’s going to be enough to take a state championship,” Reeves said. “There are other strong teams that we have not faced yet.” He expects that the girls team will place in the top five at States.
While the boys team is much smaller than the girls, they are still expecting big successes at the meet. “Heading in, we probably have the best boy that we’ve ever had at the school, William Carrico,” said Reeves. Carrico (‘23) has set six of nine ORHS records for boys swimming and holds the fastest qualifying time in every individual race at States.
Carrico recently set a pool record at UNH’s Swasey Pool in a time trial after the Bobcat Invitational. “It was really cool to set it because I grew up swimming in that pool. To set a pool record in the pool I grew up swimming was a full circle moment,” Carrico said. “I was super happy that I was able to set the record and get my name up on that board, hopefully for many years to come. It was a really cool moment.”
Kelly noted about the moment, “I loved that when people on our team found out William was trying to get the record, they all stayed until the end. The whole team was just at the other end, [cheering] for him. I remember how nervous I felt watching the time go and watching him swim.”
This team bond has also helped the swimmers achieve so much success this season.
On the swim team, all seniors share the role of captain, and they’ve taken the position seriously. “I think this year, we really focused a lot on having a really good team culture. Our freshman year was normal and we had a really fun season and really good captains. When COVID hit, we lost all the team culture and there wasn’t really much team spirit,” Carrico said. “This year, we’re trying to step up as much as possible, to create a tight bonded team and have a good team culture so we can all have fun and so we’re all comfortable with each other. We cheer each other on, and we just have a really good team environment where everyone’s having fun, so I think that’s contributing to it a lot.”
This work has paid off. “It’s definitely a really positive team atmosphere and we get a lot of work done,” said Brown. “That also makes our meets really fun. Even though [swimming] is really fast-paced, it takes six hours to get through some meets, so there’s a lot of downtime to be talking and bonding with teammates. Also, there’s almost always someone swimming, so everyone’s always cheering.”
Payton Zilm (‘26), the only freshman on the team who qualified for States, agreed. Even though she said she was nervous to join the team at first, “it’s a very good environment to be in and everybody’s very welcoming.”
The upcoming meet is also exciting because it is the first States since before the pandemic that will function as a normal meet. For the past several years, the team has had to practice in pools across the state that were not up to their usual standards and social distance in their lanes. Because of this, “it’s like we just kind of jumped from freshman year to senior year,” Kelly said.
This year, the state competition is back at UNH’s Swasey pool, with lots of opportunities for team spirit. “Now that it’s back to normal, it’s way more exciting,” said Carrico.
Going into States, Carrico said he’s feeling “a little nervous. I mean, it’s a little sad because it’s our last high school swim meet ever… but, you know, I’m excited. I just want have fun with the team. I have a couple goals which I want to meet, you know, set new records, maybe get a state record. It’s just exciting, nervous, a bunch of mixed emotions.”
Stop by the UNH Swasey Pool on Saturday, February 11th at 4:45 pm to cheer on the swim team at States!
– Zoe Selig
Images courtesy Grace Keslar