On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. during the month of November, the swimming pool is reserved for the middle school swim team. However, amongst the sixth, seventh, and eight graders are high schoolers as well—swimming alongside the middle school students while coaching and directing their peers. These high school students are members of the varsity swim team, and have volunteered to help coach middle school swimmers who will hopefully continue to swim in high school. Though the middle and high schools in SIS are normally disconnected, coaching provides students a chance to get to know other swimmers in a variety of grades, developing unity throughout the school.
“It is really interesting to get to know middle school swimmers,” said Andrew Kim (11), varsity boys swimmer. “Because we are in such close contact with these swimmers, it is really easy to get to know them. Also, because we are watching them improve in real-time while helping them develop, we take it on a personal level to help these swimmers refine their strokes and become better swimmers. All the middle school swimmers have different personalities, and getting to work with them is really fun.”
Though coaching is meant primarily to assist middle schoolers, high school varsity swimmers take away some benefits as well. According to James Lee (10), watching other swimmers and critiquing their strokes is a way of improving one’s own swimming technique. Not only do the high school coaches receive off-season practice to review their basics, but they also blaze new paths for personal growth by going through the process of pinpointing errors in their peers, then taking that advice and applying it to themselves.
“When I look at middle school students swimming and tell them to do something, I always think to myself ‘this is what I need to do as well’,” said Jenny Kim (11), varsity girls swimmer. “Sometimes I feel a bit hypocritical, because I am telling sixth grade students to do things that I am working on myself. But because I get to see swimmers other than myself swim from a third person perspective, it is really easy to identify mistakes they are making. By taking mental notes of these things and applying them to myself, I know that I can improve my own technique. That is why I volunteer to coach, because it also helps me personally.”
According to Cindy Pressé, middle school and high school varsity swim team coach, the coaching program helps continue the swim culture at SIS. By uniting the middle and high school swim programs and by encouraging interactions between students from grades six to twelve, a “swimming network” is created in which collaboration between students viable. This interaction serves to increase the awareness of swimming at SIS, as well as breed excellent swimmers for future years.
“At SIS, there is a great swimming culture starting from elementary, middle and high school, and there are a lot of great swimmers,” Coach Pressé said. “I think this culture will continue because of the passion that the swimmers have. Not only are they good at swimming, they also genuinely like swimming. That is why high school swimmers volunteer to coach middle school kids. I think our swim program will only get stronger as the years go by, and hopefully we will have really successful seasons in the future.”