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  • Charlotte Tama

Stellar Performances and Team Spirit on the Swim Team

The swim team wins second place at DCIAA Championships / Credits: Ereftu Patel (‘25)


For many, the crisp air and sub-freezing temperatures of December mean it’s time to cozy up at home. However, for a small group of Walls students, the cold weather signals the opposite: it's time to hit the pools. This winter, despite several unusual obstacles, the Walls Swim Team has had a successful season marked by team camaraderie and perseverance.


At DCIAA championships on Jan. 24, the Walls swim team concluded their DCIAA season with an array of strong individual and team results. On the girls side, Hazel Klein (‘26) and Maddie Moffitt (‘26) took home first and second place, respectively, in the 500-yard freestyle, and Ava Goins (‘25) won the 50-yard free over a substantial field. 


On the boys side, Kai Henrikson-Brandt (‘25) and Max Scott (‘25) captured first and second place, respectively, in the 100-yard fly. Additionally, the boys relay team of Henrikson-Brandt, Max Scott, Ned Scott (‘27), and Dylan Schon (‘24) finished first in both the medley relay and freestyle relay. 


Both the boys and girls teams took home second place team trophies, bested only by Jackson-Reed. Additionally, seven swimmers received all-league awards: Klein, Moffitt, Goins, Claire Campbell (‘25), Henrikson-Brandt, Schon, and Ned Scott. 


Though the season was largely a success, it did not come without challenges, especially at the season’s commencement. “We didn't find a coach, or at least I didn't hear about having a coach until very soon before the season started,” said Campbell (‘25). 


In addition to the team’s lack of a coach, their usual practice pool, located at Dunbar High School, was closed for renovations. “It was all kind of a mess…we were choosing between Takoma and a few other [pools], but all of them were super inconvenient because swimmers [live] all around the city,” Campbell explained. 


Luckily, both issues were eventually resolved. The team found a coach, Mercedes Maynard-Randall, who has been a strong addition. “She seems very invested in the team,” said Henrikson-Brandt. 


As for practice space, the team decided on Berry Farms, a pool in Anacostia. Though swimmers are happy with the facility, the commute is inconvenient. “I think [Berry Farms] is pretty nice, but it's kind of far … Because it's a long bus ride, they have to take people out of class early,” said swimmer Audrey Hayes (‘27).


Despite this tricky start to the season, the team gained momentum quickly. “At the first meet, the boys were only outscored by the Jackson-Reed boys by a pretty small margin,” said Henrikson-Brandt. A few weeks later, at their third meet, the boys earned 524 points, putting them just 44 points behind Jackson-Reed’s boys.


For the swim team, contending with Jackson-Reed is a uniquely impressive feat. In DCIAA meets, to earn points for their team, a swimmer only needs to place in the top fifteen — an undemanding requirement, considering that many events have less than fifteen competitors. This means that point totals are heavily weighted towards the teams that simply register the most swimmers, such as Jackson-Reed. 


“The main issue we're facing is that Jackson-Reed’s team is just so much bigger … So Jackson-Reed is kind of automatically getting more points, just based on the fact that they have more kids in the event,” explained Henrikson-Brandt. At championships last week, Jackson-Reed registered 38 swimmers, while Walls registered 17. 


Despite this disadvantage, Walls swimmers are hopeful about their future chances against Jackson-Reed. “[In 2022], the girls beat Jackson-Reed. And so I think that's a goal that we can make, especially if we have more swimmers,” expressed Campbell. 


Walls swimmers encourage other students to give swimming a try, even if they are inexperienced. “We have a few swimmers who have never swam or have swam very little,” said Campbell. “If you just go to a meet, you really make an impact, and so anybody can join.”


Hayes, who just started swimming competitively this year, provides another perspective. “I know a lot of people do swim as conditioning for other sports … I’m doing it for track and soccer,” Hayes said. “[The team is] split between people who do swim as their main sport, and people who are doing it for conditioning.”


Overall, Walls swimmers agree that no matter one’s level of experience or level of commitment, there is a place on the team for them. “Nobody really thinks about joining the swim team. But it is like a community and a lot of people are on it for all four years. And so you do for the community,” said Campbell. 


Although championships have passed, the swim team has two meets left on their schedule: DCSAA States on February 14, in which they will compete against D.C. public, private, and charter schools, and Metros on February 10, in which they will face top athletes from across the DMV.

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