Halfway through its 2017 campaign, the Palo Alto High School swim team is looking just as dominant as they hoped to be at the beginning of the season.
The team has battled their way through the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League (SCVAL) with one heartbreaking loss against crosstown rivals Henry M. Gunn High School. According to junior Zachary Chen, the loss was seen as an opportunity to grow.
“We got destroyed by Gunn, but we learned that we shouldn’t feel bad about [our losses].”
junior Zachary Chen
Additionally, Chen emphasized that the loss was not indicative of the team’s improvement and performance throughout the season, as they faced various challenges in the meet against Gunn.
“We were missing a few of our best swimmers because injury,” Chen said. “We were not 100 percent due to the fact that our coach is making us train extra hard for the league finals.”
For junior Julia Qiao, team chemistry has created even more success for them.
“We are a very close and strong team this year. Our captains have worked extremely hard to foster a strong community by having dress up days for every meet as well as team bonding events.”
junior Julia Qiao
Since the start of the season, head coach Danny Dye has drilled in the mindset that the team will do well in the league finals and hopefully qualify for the state championships.
At first, the players were not fully convinced of their ability to complete this goal.
However, as the team slowly turned self-doubt into wins through hard work and dedication in practice, the confidence within the group has risen.
“The season has taught ourselves to believe in ourselves more and our mindset has changed in that we have confidence in winning leagues,” Chen said.
As the focus starts to turn to both SCVAL finals as well as Central Coast Section and California Interscholastic Federation meets, the team’s training regimen has been altered to prepare for these meets.
“As a team, it is about going to practice, getting stronger and faster and building our technique,” Qiao said. “We have six practices a week that go for about two hours and fifteen minutes [each], which can be extremely tiring.”
Despite the long practices which can sometimes include swimming more than five miles total, Qiao believes that the team knows the training will help them succeed in upcoming games.
“We know [to take this into] perspective and that it will pay off in the long run,” Qiao said.
The Vikings will compete at SCVAL league finals on April 28 at Gunn High School against the very best the league has to offer.