by Alyx Henry ‘11
The swim and dive team has been in the top five programs in the county for a number of years. Last year, the boys finished second in the county; the girls finished fourth. At Metros, the biggest local swim and dive meet of the year, the boys and girls both finished in 5th place. Even on such successful teams, individual swimmers have stood out for their exceptional performance in the pool; Kassy Kugler (’05), Heather Denman (’08), Eric Conrad (’10) and Mike Anderson (’10) all come to mind. Senior Emily Ryczek also can be added to that list. For the past three years, Ryczek, who primarily swims freestyle, has been a major contributor to the success of this team.
“Emily has grown tremendously as an athlete in her first three years as a Warrior swimmer into one of the best high school sprinters in the nation,” said swim and dive coach Brendan Lees. “Emily’s freshman year, she finished 3rd at county championships. Then, during her sophomore year, she was the county and metro champion in both the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle. She then followed that up with defending her titles last year as a junior, which is not an easy thing to do,” said Lees.
Ryczek, who has been swimming since age seven, puts in about 18 hours a week for her club team Rockville Montgomery Swim Club (RMSC), and about seven hours a week for the school team. “She has also become a great leader on our team and is a captain this year. She knows how to lead by example by always doing her absolute best and making sure she is ready for every race she swims in,” said Lees. In freestyle Ryczek, has qualified for several meets since entering high school, such as Junior Nationals, in which she has participated for three years, and the Charlotte Ultra Swim in Charlotte, North Carolina during her sophomore year, which she had qualified for at Junior Nationals that spring in Orlando.
Ryczek plans on being a swimmer on a scholarship and has been recruited by the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland. She has recently committed to swimming at Virginia Tech in the fall. In the meantime, she and the rest of the team are looking forward to this upcoming season and the fresh talent they have in the freshman class. “I think we should do pretty well this year despite the fact that we moved up to Division I last year. We’re all really excited for competition to start and we’re looking forward to seeing fast swims–hopefully breaking some SHS records,” said Ryczek.
Individually, the swimmers have worked all year getting ready for the season and had their first team practices the week of November 15, even though their season did not start until early December. “I think we are going to be very competitive all year long during our dual meet season in Division I with the other top teams in the county. Then, I think at our championship meets at the end of the year, we can improve on our finishes from last year,” said Lees.