Swimming & Diving look to spring back

Antonio Octaviano ’20’s 100-meter breaststroke at Malvern last year – courtesy of Communications

In his 2018 speech at the Eagles’ Super Bowl parade, offensive tackle Lane Johnson asserted, “hungry dogs run faster.” Such a statement could also apply to the 2019-2020 Fords Swimming and Diving team.

     On each of the past three Saturdays, the team has completed grueling four-hour workouts. Beginning at 8 a.m. each Saturday, the team has been lifting weights, pushing water, and springing off of diving boards. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, life goes amiss if Haverford’s aquatic athletes are not at the pool. Of course, such a rigorous schedule in society’s less active hours do not deter the team in its enervating afternoon practices. Fords Swimming and Diving always remains at work.

     But why? Why has this year’s team witnessed such a sharp increase in intensity, in hard work? Last season’s results, considered a disappointment by some, could serve as an explanation.  The 2018-2019 Fords Swimming and Diving team finished with an Inter-Ac record of 1-3, and a sixth-place finish at the Easterns Championships; both results were severe drop-offs from what had been the norm for the Fords in the previous five years.

     But the past remains the past — unchangeable. And so, the Fords look towards the future. Fifth Former Jack Deppen, the team’s top distance freestyler, noted the effect of last year’s season on the current roster.

“We have used last year’s shortcomings as a source of fuel this year.”

Jack Deppen ’21

      “Last year, we obviously did not experience as much success as we had hoped on going into the season. We have used last year’s shortcomings as a source of fuel this year, training longer and harder than we have over the last few years,” Deppen said.

     Achieving this success, of course, does not come solely from hard work. As much as swimming is an individual sport, a team’s full potential can only result from adding into the mix positivity and team camaraderie.

     Fifth Former Gabe Gowen, one of the team’s more outgoing figures, hopes to contribute to the team’s success through his respective role.

     “I am definitely not one of the best swimmers/divers on the team. We’ve got guys like Brian Brennan [’20, Virginia commit] and Antonio Octaviano [’20, Minnesota commit]. But at practices, I try to lighten the mood in the midst of all of the hard work and encourage other guys to work harder,” Gowen said.

     Sixth Form captain Antonio Octaviano, promotes positivity and fostering camaraderie.

“I do my best to lead by example and stay positive.”

Antonio Octaviano

     “Being a leader for the guys on the team is one of my top priorities. I do my best to lead by example and stay positive, and they don’t make that job very hard,” Octaviano said.

     Octaviano also noted one of the team’s newer traditions that helps set a positive tone for the team.

     “After every Saturday morning practice, the guys on the team try to go to Qdoba and have a team lunch. It’s a nice hard-earned reward after such long and hard practices.”

     The Fords remain hungry for this upcoming season, and for Qdoba after their weekend practices. The more they strive for victory, the faster they will swim and the better they will dive.

Author: Ryan LaRocca '20

Ryan LaRocca is an editor-in-chief of the newspaper, previously serving as the editor of the sports section. Last year, his article "J.R. Leitz emerges as leader in the pool" received third place recognition for sports articles in the Philadelphia-area Scholastic Writing Awards. This year, his piece "Swimming & diving look to spring back" earned a Gold Key and his feature "Rise of the Jewish Student Union" earned a Silver Key. Outside of The Index, Ryan acts as the captain for the water polo team and the vice president of the Entrepreneurship Club. In the classroom, his favorite subject is history.