Reagan swim team’s secret to winning, supporting one another in and out of water


Photo Courtesy of Allie Bontrager

The Reagan women’s swim team wins another title at the Central Piedmont 4A Conference Championships. (Jan. 29, 2022) The women’s swim team continues to win conference titles despite team difficulties.

Ilia Young, Rooster Reporter

The Reagan swim team focuses on team bonding to guarantee support and encouragement so swimmers can win their individual races. 

The women’s swim team has won each of their conference titles since the school has opened. In total, the women have won 17 conference titles, and the men’s team have won eight. Being on the swim team makes many swimmers feel a sense of accomplishment.

“Everyone has to try out for a spot each year,” coach Ryan Michel said. “Many people make the team after being cut the previous year because they train if it is something that they really want.”

While Reagan’s swim team as a whole has earned many accolades, each individual swimmer has their own personal goals. Finding a balance between self-pride and being proud of the team as a whole is another challenge. 

“I feel proud of myself  after a good race because I know I worked hard,” sophomore Allie Bontrager said. “But I also think about how it affects the rest of the team.” 

Throughout the pandemic, many aspects of life have changed. Even training for the team has been affected by COVID-19. 

“One of the things we used to do was a diver relay,” senior diver John Dymond said. “All the divers would come together and do a relay, but due to COVID and social distancing, we avoided things like that.”

Dive team members pose together after a meet. While the divers are small in numbers, they are part of the team as a whole and they share similar experiences. (from left to right: John Dymond, Avery Morris, Cameron Morris, Michella Ward.) (Photo credit: Maryvan Gardner)

In many sports, being part of a team is part of the appeal. While each swimmer competes individually, they don’t feel isolated. Many have found a sense of family on the team despite it being so independent. 

“Being a part of this team made me realize how much I love this sport,” freshman Denise Coleman said. “Bonding with people who understand the struggles and excitements you go through was just so much fun.”

Like all sports teams, student athletes form strong bonds with each other. Underclassmen appreciate the advice and friendship of their older teammates. 

“I enjoy being on the team,” freshman Bence Burton said. “It’s fun being able to work with the older swimmers on relays and in practice.”

As teammates help each other learn and grow, there is less pressure to prove oneself. Each year everyone must try out regardless of team status the previous year. Swimmers learn their strengths and understand their differences from others. 

“I feel there is less pressure because you are younger,” freshman Grayden Raney said. “That helps your nerves as you get onto the blocks against kids twice your size.”

Meanwhile, seniors on the team become occupied with their legacy. Leaving behind an impression on Reagan is important to many. 

“I’m mostly proud of my senior season,” Dymond said. “I won both conference and regionals, I was six points off winning states. I got second, which shows improvement through the years. I also broke my own school record again with a score of 492; improving the old record by over 70 points. The legacy that I leave is based on my achievements, and I feel that I’ve left a lot.”

Dymond is committed to diving at Miami University of Ohio.

Captains on the team also feel pressure. The women’s team captain is senior Abby Jennings and the men’s team captain is senior Aiden Coffield. Throughout the season, the captains strive to motivate and assist their teammates. 

“Being a captain was an amazing leadership experience,” Jennings said. “It’s a great way to show my love for the team. This year was hard because I wasn’t able to plan lots of things for the team to get close to each other and bond. I feel like I was a good person for the younger girls to come talk to whenever they needed anything.”

The combined efforts of the captains and coach have been recognized not only through the successful scores in competition, but also through the camaraderie and general appreciation from the team.

“There is an overall sense of encouragement from everyone on the team and we work to win as a team,” Burton said. “Coach Michel is very good at using everyone in order to allow us to succeed.”

A sense of community and family is an essential part of the swim team. Michel realizes this and uses it to the team’s advantage. 

“Everyone buys into the team and the idea that every point counts from the fastest to the slowest swimmer,” Michel said. “I try to make them believe that they are a part of something bigger than themselves.”