The Magic of Heart

Hi there, it’s Clare Foster, senior breaststroker and tri-captain on HWSD.  Back on campus after a whirlwind weekend at Princeton, it’s hard to settle in after so much emotion.  How can I possibly read about theories of the justice of healthcare when all my brain is doing is replaying the events of the past two days over and over again?  These are the moments you want to cherish forever- these feelings of complete and utter elation are few and far between in life (yes, I realize I sound a little silly, corny and philosophical- I attribute that to my old age and alleged ”wisdom”).

Coming into HYP weekend, we knew we were ready.  To call us cocky would be wrong, but we were confident.  We had hours of hard training behind us, we had our flawless dual meet record to show us that we were great, but most importantly, we had that little something else special: heart.  The “fire in our bellies” to race, fight even claw our way to the finish for one another is what makes HWSD a truly unique team and has been fundamental in our success this year, especially at HYP.

Cosmo, for those of you who don’t know, is the name HWSD give two girls every year who are in charge of providing the team with inspiration, spirit and enthusiasm through arts and crafts.  I like to think of Cosmo as HWSD’s own fairy godmothers. Each meet Cosmo provides inspiration through a quote or poem (with a piece of candy to match). This weekend Cosmo’s quote was “Never underestimate the heart of a champion”. Looking back on this saying now I realize how much I had taken for granted the weight, power and strength heart can have.

In a team meeting Friday afternoon before the first session of HYP, Kyle Cutter, HWSD alumna and current volunteer assistant coach, stood up holding a Snapple bottle full of water in her hands.  The water in the bottle wasn’t just any old water – it was water she had taken from our very own Blodgett pool.  In it, she explained, was all our hard work from the season-all our VO2 max practices, our killer threshold sets we thought would never end, our blood, our sweat, our tears, but most importantly it contained our confidence, our faith and trust in one another, our commitment to HWSD; it contained our heart.  And in that meeting, we decided we were going to make a vow both literally-by pouring the Blodgett water in our lanes at DeNunzio- and figuratively to bring all those moments, all those experiences, to Princeton that weekend. That is exactly what we did, and boy it was pure magic.  Let me repeat, never underestimate the heart of a champion.

"Harvard on the Warpath" team cheer

Class of 2013 post-HYP victory

Gotta Want It to Win It

Hello there swimmers, family and friends. My name is Ana Anaya and I
am a freshman flyer. Before I start talking about this past week and
the challenges we face ahead, I would like to take a moment to
describe what drew me to this team.

I remember being a senior in high school training long hours on my
club team. The sets were brutal and right when I thought I couldn’t
take another stroke, a thought popped into my head. A simple thought,
yet a powerful one. I would soon become a member of one of the most
extraordinary group of girls out there, the Harvard Women’s Swimming and
Diving Team. It only took one visit for me to truly understand what a
powerful team this was. These woman are driven by desire and passion,
surpassed by none and matched by few. Fast forward into the beginning
of my freshman year and all of my previous notions about this team
were confirmed.

I remember sitting by the bleachers during one of Steph’s “brief”
meetings. She spoke about hunger, and chasing one’s goals without fear
of failure. We were told that we didn’t act like we wanted to win bad
enough. This obviously stroke a nerve among us all and we quickly got
whipped into shape. This notion, the bare idea that we did not want to
be champions has rung through my ears all year. I can say now, firmly
and without a single doubt in my mind, that there is nothing that we
want more than to win two championships next weekend.

We have all worked harder than we have ever worked before. We have
surprised ourselves by mastering sets, which once seemed impossible.
We have put our bodies through incredible amounts of pain because we
are shooting for one united goal. We have reached our breaking points
and persevered until the end. In each of my teammates, my sisters, I
see such an immense amount of passion and devotion. Seeing them
working so hard makes me want to be better and for that I thank each
and everyone of them.

Through this entire season, these woman have welcomed all of the
freshman into their tight knit family. We have all become so close
through various activities and bonding sessions. But most importantly
we have been united every day, in every practice. As I look around the
pool deck, I find comfort in knowing that all of these woman are
standing behind me. We are a team like no other. We not only train for
our individual victories, we train for each other. That’s the true
meaning of being a crimson swimmer. We celebrate each others victories
and pick each other up when things don’t go our way. The ability to
look beyond ourselves and work together as a team is what makes us
unique. It’s what makes us dangerous.

Next weekend we depart for what is sure to be one of the most
electric weekends we have ever faced. Although our entire team will
not be under one venue, we all compete as one. As we begin our
championship season we know in our hearts that we have done everything
to prepare. The time has come to show everybody what we are made of.
Defeating a defending championship team will not be an easy feat, but
as we stand side by side with the support of our family and fans, we know
that we cannot fail. We are prepared to fight until the very end. It’s
time to let our swimming do the talking. It’s time to show what we
have been working so very hard for. We will not back down, we will not
be intimidated, and we will defend our house.

 

The juniors at our "Zoo" themed bonding night

We Are Harvard

It is no exaggeration when I say that this past weekend was the most exciting swim meet I have ever been a part of. There are no words to effectively capture the intensity, heart, and passion that every swimmer and diver radiated this past weekend. But in an attempt to best summarize the energy; in my three years on this team, I have never been more proud to be a member of Harvard Women’s Swimming and Diving.

HYP is always our last meet before championships, and while still scored like a dual meet, it is spread over two days, mimicking a trials-finals schedule and giving the athletes more rest between events. HYP is a historic rivalry, and always brings out impressive parent, fan, and alumni support. And this year we hosted the event in our home pool.

In short synopsis, less than 24 hours ago HWSD put an end to Princeton’s six year long claim to the Dual Meet Championship title. Final score 190-110. While the numbers are impressive, they do nothing to capture the raw emotion and determination that every athlete displayed to achieve the final result.

Before every competition we meet in our locker room as a team. And while the meetings are always motivational and exciting, this time there was something positively electric in the air… and it worked its way into every person’s core. Coach Morawksi’s speech was the most invigorating we have ever received. We are the underdogs. We have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. The take home point; “swim faster, dive straighter.” Afterwards, teammates took center stage to voice their own inspirational words. By the time we were finished, not a single person was left without goosebumps. As we marched out on deck chanting, “We are Harvard,” I have never before felt so connected with the team. We were untied by one common goal. No longer individuals compiling a team; we were Harvard, and Harvard was ready to fight.

As many of you know, one of our favorite phrases this year is, “Welcome to the Zoo.” Originating from our animalistic dryland routine, we have since incorporated the beastly metaphor into our swimming, diving, and attitudes outside of the pool. And as we all stood there, about to enter into battle, we were indeed caged animals. Two teams were coming to attack, but what they didn’t know was that in our house you have to play by our rules.

The tone of the meet was set by the first medley relay. We went 1-3 on Princeton, breaking a team record in the process. And from there the wins just kept coming. 1-2 in the 1,000, 1-2-3 in the 200 freestyle … (To read a highlight of all the individual performances, see the recent GoCrimson article: http://www.gocrimson.com/sports/wswimdive/2011-12/releases/20120205j7y2tw) The success was infectious. It mounted with each triumph, building, and enveloping the team. The air in Blodgett was charged with energy. But they key to our success was not by riding the escalating excitement. Instead, where we really shined was in our ability to remain calm. Even when victory was palpable we were composed. And it paid off.

This past weekend we boiled competition down to its most simple essence: get your hand to the wall first. And we did. And each time we did, smiles erupted across the lanes and boards, smiles that easily outshined the deafening roars accompanying the wins.

As we go into the next few weeks, we keep one truth at heart: We are STILL the underdogs, but we’re ready to flip the script.

Caroline Weaver,
Class of 2013
Backstroker

 

Harvard Yale Princeton Swimming & Diving

Harvard Yale Princeton Swimming & Diving

Harvard Yale Princeton Swimming & Diving

Harvard Yale Princeton Swimming & Diving

Harvard Yale Princeton Swimming & Diving