Swimmers, divers work through strenuous hell week

Shiva Mirzahaidar, staff writer

The smell of chlorine fills the natatorium as students maneuver themselves through the pool to the beat of shrieking whistles. Swimmers and divers crowd here to feel the thrill of competition and participate in one of the school’s most vigorous sports.

“I love being in the water,” sophomore Sarah Christnacht said. “It makes me feel good, even after a really crappy day.”

Swimmers and divers agree that the enjoyment of the sport is their motivation to continue through the difficult practices.

“I love diving because of all the people I meet and places I go,” senior Dominic Ricotta said. “Practice is tough but it is always fun.”

Despite the thrill of being in the water, the stress placed on the teams can sometimes prove difficult. For varsity swimmers, the pressure to succeed is proving to be even more of a challenge, as the notorious hell week is approaching. Hell week is from Dec. 5 to Dec. 9.

“Hell week is where we do an average of 9000 yards per practice,” sophomore Chloe Gardner said. “The workouts are basically nonstop, [include] no rest, [and are] super fast.”

In order to maximize performance, varsity swimmers are taking extra steps to prepare for performing to the best of their abilities.

“I am trying my best to get enough sleep and eat healthy,” Gardner said. “The better I fuel my body before hell week, the better I perform.”

Several swimmers and divers also participated in a competition  called Texas Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association, (TISCA), on Nov. 18 and 19. The meet tested their talents against schools in and out of the district.

“TISCA is a swim meet where you have to get a certain time to go, and then you swim the races you qualified in,” sophomore Tori Kroon said. “If you were the fastest 16, you got to come back on Nov. 19 and re-swim it to try to get a better rank. It was a lot of fun.”

Divers also face several challenges, such as not being able to practice on home grounds, but rather at Taylor High School, which is fully equipped to meet the divers’ needs.

“I think it is actually better because when they combine high schools, obviously, there are more divers practicing together,” Ricotta said. “It makes it easier to try new things when you have a larger support group.”

Another major challenge that the athletes encounter is a lack of school spirit from their peers. With the string of recent nearly sold-out football games between the men in maroon and other competitors, the lack of support towards these sports has become apparent.

“Considering how hard we work and how dedicated we are, the bleachers at our meets are certainly not as filled up as at say, football games,” Gardner said.

Yet despite the absence of fans, the athletes continue to work hard.

“I just do it [because] I like it,” Ricotta said. “And if a few people enjoy watching it, [then] that is great. I do not really have a demand for a large fan base.”

Ricotta recently signed with The University of Arizona.

“It is just hard to wrap my mind around that I am actually going to be leaving home in less than a year,” Ricotta said. “Even though leaving Katy is going to be tough, I love Arizona and the people I met there.”

Regardless of labor intensive practices and lack of support from other students, the swimmers and divers manage to enjoy the competition and remain close.

“I just fell in love with the team,” Christnacht said, “Sometimes I want to yell at them when they are acting like idiots, but I love them with all my heart and would not want it any other way.”