Swimmers embrace inner spirit

Over the course of the past few months, students may have seen girls dressed in a certain theme. One may wonder why they are dressed in such a manner.

These girls are most likely members of the girls swim team at Puyallup High School; a large and very spirited team with almost 60 teammates.

When the team attends swim meets twice a week, they have spirit days and the whole team dresses a particular way together.

Junior Sierra Allen has been part of the girls swim team for three years and is one among many teammates.

“Having spirit days was the captain’s idea because we have never done this in the past. Just knowing who the captains [seniors Emma Miller and Serena Fink] are, it fits their personalities to do this,” Allen said. “The coaches approved of it wholeheartedly because that is who they are. My top favorite one was Despicable Me Day where we all dressed up like minions. We even got yellow swim caps to wear at the swim meet and our entire team was dressed in yellow.”

This is the first year that swim team has participated as a team in spirit days twice a week. The idea came from coaches Andrea Stammen and Casi Messineo, as it was a tradition for their swim teams all throughout their high school careers at Edmonds-Woodway High School.

“Andrea and I have been trying for years to get our captains to do it and the captains this year got on board and it has been so much fun. We both feel that it is really important to have team spirit, because with spirit comes team pride. We have pride in our school, in our teams, and our community so we show that through having team spirit,” Messineo said.

Team spirit days twice a week has brought the swim team together as one and has  even planted many seeds of friendship into the hearts of girls on the team.

“Having something in common that we all do, like being ridiculous together, just helps us bond even more as a team. It helps us to become closer,” Allen said. “Some people do not even know that we have a swim team, where the pool is, or that we even have a pool. We just want to get the word out that we are here, we are a large portion of the athletes at this school and it is one gigantic swim family. We want people to know that this is what we do it is what I do, and it is something fun that we all love and enjoy.”

Senior Mahalia Jaramillo, team leader, started on the swim team as a freshman and has been a part of the team every year of her high school career. She plays an active role as a teammate and a spirited swimmer.

“Spreading kindness and encouragement is definitely my favorite part of being on the team. Having all that spirit and energy really builds you up and gets you motivated to swim for your team. When people are cheering for me, I am not going to let them down and I am going to do my best for my team. It is a really big motivation to know that all of that motivation and spirit out there is for us,” Jaramillo said.

Not only is the swim team very close and spirited team, but the girls also play an active and very important role in the community that is not to be overlooked.

“[The girls swim team] has a really big influence on making people feel part of a community and part of a group. I have definitely met all of my closest friends on that team. I have seen a lot of friendships grow within the team and seen people make their closest and best friends there. I think that is really cool that it brings so many people together,” Jaramillo said. “Having team spirit days makes people get more involved. It is one more thing that sets us apart and really makes us our own group within the school itself, because that is something that no one else does, so I definitely think that makes us a lot closer.”

One meet in particular, there were very few girls on the opposing team so members of the PHS swim team went over to cheer for the girls who needed encouraging and positive energy in order to perform their best in behalf of their team.

“One of the things I love about swim is that when we go against a team when some of the other teams have very few swimmers and we are a team of 50 almost 60 girls, when they do not have enough members to cheer for their own team, we cheer for them. Some girls will swim a relay and will not have a single person to cheer for them from their school, so we take on that responsibility by cheering and encouraging them” Jaramillo said.

Coaches Andrea Stammen and Casi Messineo are in full support of the girls supporting not only one another but girls from opposing teams as well when the need arises.

“That is kind of one of our things as a team. We never want to take over someone else’s cheering, but if someone does not have anyone cheering for them, we have enough spirit to share. We never want to take the place of someone else who wants to cheer for their own team. We have enough spirit to spread around for everyone,” Messineo said.

Along with having so much spirit, the girls swim team has also come through in helping the community by participating in a swim meet that was dedicated to breast cancer and raising money for that particular cause. The swim team brought in baked goods, t-shirts and beverages to sell and raise money for. All profits are donated to breast cancer funds–this year the swim team raised almost $1,000 for the cause.

“We deck out the pool in pink and everybody wears pink. Some girls even wear pink wigs and it is really spirited. That is my favorite meet in particular, because we are not only swimming against our rivals to beat them, but we are swimming for something bigger than ourselves. Every single race is for that cause. That is another situation where spirit comes into play because we all get really involved to try and make a difference in our community,” Jaramillo said.

The girls swim team has brought many girls closer together and helped girls to feel comfortable to be themselves in and outside of school and also make many lasting friendships.

“When there are a lot of kids who get scared first coming into high school, or if they are a freshmen they are really scared about what it might be like. It really helps the transition go better because they already have good friends from swim team; especially when they have upperclassmen they can turn to to feel supported if they need it,” Allen said. “One of the things that I look forward to every year, is having that close team. It helped me my freshmen year at Aylen when I was on swim team and it helped me to get out of my shell a little bit. It’s helped me to make better friends for high school.”