In Between Lanes: Girls Swim 2017

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Emily Cooper

Her arms seem to stretch like putty until the tips of her pruny fingers finally kiss the wall of pool, and freshman Emma Barickman is flushed with relief. She’s finished her sets, she’s swam her hardest, and she’s done for the day – or so she thought. It’s Monday, which meant 45 more minutes in the pool trying to keep up with the varsity girls who were multiple strokes ahead of her.

While the other JV girls finished practice and quickly hopped out of the pool to wrap themselves in polka-dotted towels, Barickman and eight other swimmers spent extra time in the chlorine every Monday, Friday and Saturday to practice with varsity.

These seven freshman, one sophomore and one junior were the extent of the “JV plus” swim team, a mixture between the JV and varsity teams at East. 

“I like to describe us as the leftovers, but like the good kind of leftovers,” Barickman jokes. “We weren’t quite ready for varsity, but still above the JV level, so our coach made a team that combined the two.”

In past years, the gap between the two teams had been distinct, but young talent with competitive times created the need for the JV plus team. These swimmers practiced with JV, but also got the opportunity to be in the pool with varsity, as they worked to improve their skills in the water. 

“Although these girls hadn’t reached the varsity level yet, I could see their potential and knew they needed more demanding intervals than JV provides,” head varsity coach Rob Cole said. “They won’t always do the same sets as varsity, but the time with stronger swimmers will improve them greatly.”

Cole hoped that even one or two extra hours a week would expose the young swimmers to the varsity level and the hard work that was paired with it. He knew that five seconds couldn’t be dropped overnight, but was happy with the challenge that these ten swimmers received, while still giving them room to improve. Room to work harder. Room to kick faster. And room to stretch.