Standout swimmers achieve success despite obstacles


Swimming is often regarded as one of the most difficult sports to compete in because of the crucial emphasis placed on strength and technique. 

To put it into perspective, a one second difference between swimmers could be the difference between first and tenth place, or a district qualifier versus a state qualifier. 

Sports teams have been met with a multitude of changes and challenges as of late, and the swim team is certainly not exempt. Besides adjusting to abide by COVID-19 restrictions and protocols, this season adopted a new practice schedule and saw close competition for relay spots. 

Though this year has been full of obstacles, some swimmers have still managed to stand out and achieve success. 

The swim team’s home pool is normally the C.T. Branin Natatorium that is also used for the postseason sectional and state swim meets. This pool has been undergoing renovations since last spring, rendering it unavailable for practice or competition until this year’s state meet. 

The solution to this problem came in the form of morning practice from 5-6:30 a.m. at the Perry Natatorium on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Swimmers found themselves waking up at 4 a.m. for swim practice, followed by a full school day and then dry land practice from 5:15-6:30 p.m. 

“I think as tough as morning practice was, we were doing our part for the cause of this season. With all of the closings, we were lucky enough to have a pool to swim at,” sophomore Jacob Harms said. “I think it showed how dedicated a lot of the swimmers are.” 

Dedication certainly benefited Harms, as he earned a chance to compete for a spot in the boys 200 Free Relay and 400 Free Relay alongside senior Spencer Reich and sophomores Blayne Maurer and Layne Studer. 

Initially, Harms did not expect to be a contender for an A team relay because he is only in his second season of being on a swim team. Nevertheless, Harms has developed a dedication towards improving that has allowed him to set multiple personal records this season. 

On the girls side, the relays were also determined by a swim off. The two staple members on all three relays are two younger classmen, sophomore Kate Weisbrod and freshman Anna Perticarini. 

Perticarini has been swimming since she was six years old and is recognized as a very hard worker on the team. Her experience and determination have already earned her a considerable amount of success for her first high school season. 

At the NEAC Championship meet, Perticarini swam the 50 freestyle in 25.26 seconds, the second fastest time that a freshman girl at GlenOak has ever swam. 

This accomplishment earned her a gold cap, a special swim cap that is awarded to swimmers who achieve great things as a result of their continuous hard work. Harms was also awarded a cap during his freshman year. 

These achievements have come early in Perticarini’s high school swim career, and considering her work ethic, more are certainly expected to come in her future. Perticarini’s dedication has also had a positive effect on her teammates. 

“We’re always subconsciously motivating each other to be faster” Weisbrod said. “She never slacks off or gives up, and it sets the tone for the rest of the team.” 

With all of the unfortunate circumstances that COVID-19 has caused in sports, determination and motivation have been two essential factors in the success of the swim team, especially Harms and Perticarini. 

Perhaps most importantly though, a genuine enjoyment of the sport and team atmosphere have made such a unique season all the more worthwhile. 

“I really like the swimmers and the coaches that are a part of the program,” Harms said. “I think it’s a great sport that is made even better by the people who do it.”