Swimming to Success

The LHS swim team is swimming to new lengths.

Paige Hodges and Danny Johnston

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Smiles were ear to ear as each swimmer, diver and coach rushed to form a huddle around their new plaque. Last year, the men’s swim and dive team won the Conference Championship at their meet in Gladstone.

Fists were raised high into the air and arms were open wide as they embraced one another. Lights were flashing left and right as people snapped photos, capturing every moment, including when the team plunged into the pool for a celebratory lap.

“It was crazy,” senior Sam Coday said. “We knew going into the season that we wanted to bring home a conference title for the first time. It was the first time that everyone was truly swimming for each other and the team.”

Even though winning the Conference Championship was the highlight of last season, the team plans to go a lot farther this year.

“We want to take home a team trophy from state, which has never been done in our school’s history,” Coach Murphy said. “We missed by three points last year.”

So far, the 2019 class has accumulated over four individual conference medals, nine individual state medals and seven school records. Those credentials are the obvious reasons they are big competitors for the state championship. Dive below the surface, to see the deeper reasons for their success.

Team Dynamics

To the Liberty swim team, a team’s dynamic has just as much of an impact on a swimmer’s performance as each practice does. Although some people look at swimming as an individual sport, there are multiple aspects that reflect teamwork.

“Everyone on the team has to be working at 100 percent in order for the team to meet their goal,” senior Tony Lonsdale said.

If a member of the team isn’t fulfilling their role, the other members encourage him. For some of the seniors, that is one of their favorite aspects of the sport.

“I like that we are willing to do anything for each other,” Coday said. “We are always there for each other and we are always ready to do what we must for the team and one another.”

The swimmers’ mission to uplift each other has helped create a bond between the athletes.

“There are a lot of other sports where you see teammates become mean to one another,” senior Cameron Murphy said. “We’re always trying to build each other up and make each other better. It’s kind of like a brotherhood.”

The seniors’ brotherhood is something unique compared to most situations. They’ve had several years to develop their relationships.

“Many of the seniors swam together when they were six or seven years old and they have been looking forward to this year since then,” Murphy said.

A majority of the swimmers dedicated some of their team’s success to their bond.

“Our team’s relationship has an effect because ever since freshman year we’ve all had this bond that is so close between us,” senior Ben Riggs said. “We kind of know how things work with one another. We never have to ask for anything.”

Whatever It Takes

Each senior swimmer will attest to the commitment it takes to be successful in swimming.

“It takes a lot of dedication compared to a lot of other sports, because there will be times where you will have to work yourself out of a slump,” Lonsdale said.

When it comes down to it, there is more to swimming than the athleticism of it. There is also the mental aspect that many athletes struggle with.

“There are going to be times when you aren’t dropping time like you want to be,” senior Murphy said. “But you have to keep training and trusting the process. You need to have faith to be a truly good swimmer.

Every good team has athletes that are willing to do anything for the sake of the sport. LHS has a set of swimmers who’ve learned what it means to be truly devoted.

“Swimming is not just a sport, it’s kind of a lifestyle,” senior Noah Witzki said. “If you ask a lot of the swimmers that are going to national meets, they will say in order for them to make it there, they had to devote to swimming and sacrifice some things.”

To achieve the team’s goals, the seniors have experienced having to prioritize swim over other extracurriculars and learning time management as a student athlete.

“I’ve had to sacrifice sleep, hanging out with friends and sometimes even time for homework, but I believe in us this year,” senior Max Kline said.


Photo by Kaleigh McCarthy

Senior Sam Coday

“The biggest challenge is that sometimes it’s hard to keep going. You have to remind yourself why you’re here and what you’re doing. It’s just the idea that you have to keep up and keep your head clear.”

Coach Chris Murphy

“Sam brings an energy that no one else has and is also very welcoming. He loves to help out the younger swimmers, he’s probably the one that talks to the new swimmers more than anybody. If you don’t know Sam, he brings an energy unlike anyone I’ve ever met.”

Teammate Jimmy Freed

“Sam’s really fun and he is so positive at practice. It’s just really great to have him on the team. During competition when the teams nerves start to set in he’s good to have around.”

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