This past weekend, the University of Maine women’s swim team wrapped up a successful season with four days of competition at the America East Championships in Worcester, Massachusetts. Over the last couple of months, the women’s swim team has competed against some tough teams, but their spirit has carried them through injuries, stress and tough times.
Lilli Wiseman, a fourth-year, commended the team’s ability to stay focused while still having fun during competition.
“In my time on this team, I have gained confidence in myself as a competitor and learned to trust the work we put [into] practice everyday to be able to go off to race,” Wiseman said.
She also feels as though the team has grown closer over the four years that she has been with the team.
“Our team culture has improved over my four years, and overall, we are more respectful of each other. We can confide in each other, and we are each other’s biggest fans. This team has some young powerhouses which have grown so much already as powerful women and competitors,” Wiseman said “I am so proud of each and every one of my teammates”.
The team is hugely supportive of each other, especially as the young women work to maintain their own mental health as student-athletes with busy academic and personal schedules.
Maggie White, a third-year, spoke out about how the team has helped each other deal with mental health.
“This team faced a few challenges this year, but I think that our biggest challenge is injury and mental health. It is hard to stay focused in the pool and in class when we let our physical and mental health slip. But it is so much easier to come back from injury when you have a team like this behind you,” White said.
White herself has faced some struggles which have hampered her love for swimming; she was diagnosed with epilepsy in May of 2018 and battled through a shoulder injury which resulted in surgery during her first year. She expressed how grateful she was to have her team behind her.
“So many other teammates faced other challenges, whether it was illness, injury, or mental health, and as a team we needed to be there for each other so that we can come back and perform our best,” White said.
The team has also worked hard to prepare to compete in the America East Championships.
“Personally, I have never been more ready to race. Last year at this time, I had a back injury that flared up five days before [Championships] and that almost prevented me from competing. This year, post-back-surgery, I am healthier and stronger than I have ever been, and mentally, I am ready,” Wiseman said.
“The past two years have been full of many accomplishments, and hardships. But, the team has taught me that getting through the tough times just make the good times sweeter,” Brittany Kaler, a second-year swimmer, said. “We have put in more work than ever and we have done more race prep than this team has seen in a long time. So, this weekend should be an exciting one”.
The swim team has been extremely supportive of each other over the years, as Emily Neville, a fourth-year on the team has observed.
“Empowerment is a huge thing for me, especially between women, because it’s hard enough being a girl in today’s society,” Neville said. “No other group of women lifts each other up like this team has. It’s a truly phenomenal feeling to be supported and motivated by hardworking, dedicated … lady bears.”
By the first day of the championship, the team had already set three school records and were looking forward to setting more. After the team finishes competing on Sunday, Feb. 17, they will have completed their season but will be looking forward to their next season and all the potential it holds.