Road to Sulfur: State as a Senior


Four years ago, I attended my first LHSAA State Meet as a Varsity Swim member. As the years progressed, prepping for State and traveling out with the team became routine.

But this November, swimming for this fourth and final State meet felt different from the years prior. 

Of course, there’s some objective differences. This was our first year in Division III, which prompted us with harder qualifying times and faster competition. The team also got smaller – from 26 my freshman year to 15 my senior year. We lost the advantage of numbers, which helps to naturally accumulate points. Another factor playing into differences was my position as co-captain, which created new responsibilities and roles that freshmen me didn’t have to worry about. 

But the largest and most obvious difference to me is it being senior year. As my last State Swim Meet as a Greenie, the entire trip to Sulphur has a different feeling to it. An air of finality. Combine that sentimental feeling with the overwhelm of college applications and admissions – right smack in the middle of November nonetheless – it’s admittedly pretty easy for the seniors to feel distant from the team. Discussions about next year’s plans (“Next year we should do it like this!” or “OMG PLZ next year we’re definitely actually going to host that water polo party”) end up further increasing the distance. Additionally, certain swim times draw the interest of college recruits during season meets leading up to state, creating a new experience to navigate. Many seniors across various sports and clubs share a similar feeling, even if it happens at different points throughout the year. 

But that didn’t stop us. In fact, feeling the way generations of seniors on the team have felt only helped me appreciate the team more. Despite the overwhelm and potential distance they felt, they were always there for us. So, instead of the finality of senior year being a distancing factor, it became a way to be reflective. I made sure to share my stories and any advice that helped me in my experiences and kept passing down team traditions. But also, as time has passed, I’ve come to recognize the hard work that even the tiniest improvement takes. It made each team member’s race more memorable and more impressive to watch. In fact, I’m entirely certain that the current freshmen are wayyy better than I was. My perspective as a senior makes me more excited for the team as a whole. So although State itself had become a sort of routine through the years, the moments I shared with the team were special. 

In the end, some things still stayed the same as the years before. Things like your heart rate instantly increasing when you actually finally enter the pool deck at Sulfur. Things like the thrill of making a poster and subtly delivering it to the hotel room of your Secret Swimmer. Things like the girls crowding together in a hotel room the night before to try on the tech suits and pray they will actually fit. Things like the hard work, fun times, and dedication of the swim team. And the dedication of the swimmer parents and coaches. Oh, and eating at an Italian place for dinner before Finals (and the chaos that always finds its way there…This time it was Elias). 

The drive home from Sulfur felt just as victorious as it did freshman year. When I got out of the pool after my very last race, I honestly felt the same as I always felt: relief – I can breathe now! – but above all, pride for my team. The only difference is that I also felt a sense of comfort: I know the team will be in a good place after I leave, and I know they’ll continue to do great things. Keep it up, Greenies. Love y’all. 


Click here to access the article from state four years ago for comparison: