The Garfield womens swim team ended last season with astounding results.
“This is honestly the best season we’ve had since I’ve been coaching here for the girls team, in terms of overall team community and team performance,” said David Johnson, who has been coaching the team since 2010. “We placed the highest at Metro that we ever have, at least in ten years.
According to Johnson, this is also the first year that members of the team that qualified for district and state did not all get in. “To go to districts and state, you can only have four entries in each event … so the competition of those slots was much tougher than it has been.”
One major challenge the team had this year was a change in practice location.
“We had the big disadvantage this year of Medgar Evers being closed the whole season,” Johnson said, “so we had to train down at Rainier Beach in the afternoons, only one hour a day, four days a week, and we overcame all of that and had a great season.”
The strong sense of community on the team led them to their success, despite this challenge.
“I think seeing people show up to those practices was a really strong indication of how strong our community was; that people were willing to make that effort to come out,” said Natasha Wozniak, one of the two team captains.
“It’s a great community, and a great factor is that we’wve built up traditions each year. Each year we try to make the community do things to make the team better; from the community aspect, from the technical aspect, from the performance aspect; and not just at the top level but the whole range of abilities on the team,” Johnson said, “ So we want our slowest people to get better, we want our average people to get better, and we want our best people to get better, and that really happened this year, across the board.”
The team captains, Natasha Wozniak and Alice Johnson have been essential in the team’s progress.
“Together I think we’ve worked really hard to make sure that everyone understands what an important part of the team they are,” Wozniak said. “Our almost ten state swimmers, of course they are very important, but everyone on the team makes the community … I think building a community where everyone feels valued is really important.”
This is Wozniak’s last year swimming for the team, but she has high hopes for the future.
“They’re headed into a great year next year. We had a junior class this year that was so strong. There’s like almost ten of them I think and they’re all very good leaders, they’re very strong, they’re very spirited.”