Ebb & flow: reflecting on the 2023 swim season

Men’s swim team finsishes 5th, women’s places 7th in solid Northwestern Conference performance

With the swimming season coming to a close, the Men and Women’s teams boasted a strong performance, including multiple program records and numerous swimmers advancing in the Northwest Conference Championship (NWC) meet that took place Feb. 9 through 12. 

The men’s team placed 5th of 9 with 281.5 points, and women’s placed 7th, with 202 points. Both results were in line with the all-season rankings held pre-conference. 

Aniqah Gaffoor ’26 and Jane Tewinkel ’26 were named to the NWC All-Conference Team, with Gaffoor earning All-Conference Honors in three events and Tewinkel in one. Gaffoor was also the first female Pioneer swimmer to place in the top three of a NWC since 2019. 

Five male swimmers were awarded to the NWC All-Conference Team. With swimmers Eric Norman ’23 and Micah Rysavy ’25 returning after winning previously. New awardees Zach Martin ’26, Michael Spicer ‘26 and Jonathan Westlake ’25 were also named. The five swimmers totalled 12 awards between them, the highest number since 2020.

As the swim team closes out its season, it anticipates welcoming a majority of its swimmers back next season to continue the hard work and dedication of the 2022-23 season. The team is pleased with the results from this past season and the consistency will help them improve even more next season.

“In order to score in the Northwest conference, you have to place in the top six teams and that was really impressive,” Rousseau said. “I think it’s the highest we’ve placed overall in a couple of years, so it’s awesome to see that the program is getting faster and that we’re really keeping all these fast swimmers here and that’s really great. And, I think a lot of I think we had around it was over 85% of people’s races ended up being a lifetime mess.”

Captain Anabelle Rousseau ’23 competed in her final collegiate meet on Sunday.

“I was a little emotional on Sunday, because it was my last races,” Rousseau said. “… My coach had all the seniors say something that they’re going to miss. And I really was crying and basically saying (how) I’m just going to miss everything … I think sports is just like such an interesting thing because you all come together and work for just literally one thing … And you all work hard for it, and you’re all very dedicated for it. And it’s just an awesome place to be.”

Rousseau, who swam freestyle and relay at the conference, attributed the success of the team to its coaches and positive dynamic. 

“It was really awesome and really uplifting because a lot of (the team) had really great swims, and a lot placed really high and had lifetime best,” Rousseau said. “That was just awesome – to see the great energy that everyone was having, the camaraderie everyone has had and just the excitement with cheering everyone on. All of our voices were so hoarse from cheering after, like, four days because we were all so excited for each other. And that’s what I really loved about it.”

Other players also emphasized the team’s camaraderie, such as Aiden Ringel ’25.

“I felt really good and also, really happy with the team,” Ringel said. “The environment and the team are all really supportive. Always cheering each other on, and there’s a really great group of people to be around for those four days.”

Ringel, like many others, set personal records competing in freestyle. He also attributed team morale and success to their coaches, in particular Head Coach Murilo Martins.

“He’s a great coach, Murilo Martins, and really funny — he makes us laugh,” Ringel said. “And he’s a good leader. And (working) for him as captain, I’ve done a good job of hosting a lot of events for the team so that we can get closer and get to know each other more. Hang out more outside of the pool as well.”

The Pioneer swimmers’ spirit and devotion to a positive team culture defined a successful end to their competitive season with strong personal and team showings. The final All-Conference list, which will be released later this year, is only one part of the solid performance show all around.

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