I spoke with swimmers Samuel Montenegro ’21 of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania and Elizabeth Cullen ’21 of Newburyport, Massachusetts about their experiences with Bates’ swim and dive team thus far.
Kerry Manuel (KM): Tell me about the Bates Swim and Dive team.
Sam Montenegro (SM): “We are the best team in the country!” That is what our coach, Peter Casares, always says.
Elizabeth Cullen (EC): Yes! I love it. That’s how he signs the end of all his emails, and he is a full believer that we are the best team in the country, which I love. It’s just a really good atmosphere, a very positive environment, and we definitely lead the country in high fives. There is also a lot of friendly competition.
SM: And we always win in warm ups. We are the first team in the water and the last team out.
EC: Yeah, we definitely put in the work.
SM: Even when no one else wants to.
KM: How has your experience been different from prior years swimming?
SM: College swimming is definitely a bigger commitment. For club swimming, it was do what you want to do and what you think is right but here, you go to practice specifically for the benefit of the team. If you don’t go to practice and work hard you are not only hurting yourself but also you are hurting the team.
EC: It is more goal oriented, not for yourself, but for the team.
KM: What are some of your goals for this year?
SM: My goals are to get faster so I can score more points for the team.
EC: Yeah, I would also much rather score points than anything else because it helps the team.
KM: What are your strokes?
EC: Distance free.
SM: Back and IM (individual medley).
KM: Does your coach ever need you to swim a different event?
SM: At the Maine State Meet this past weekend we did different things we don’t normally do.
EC: I did the 200 butterfly which is not something I usually do.
SM: Everyone was cheering for her which was awesome.
EC: It was fun to swim a different event. More people are willing to do it because we have such a small team now as opposed to in high school. People will just have to step up and swim different events. This weekend we were exploring what people can do.
KM: What was it like being at your first meet of the year against Trinity and Wesleyan?
EC: I was nervous.
SM: So nervous.
KM: How did the captains help calm your nerves?
SM: They were not trying to calm us down but actually trying to hype us up.
EC: We do a cheer at the beginning of the meet that hypes everyone up.
SM: We have the best cheer in the NESCAC.
EC: Our team gets very into it.
KM: What is the leadership like on the team?
EC: I think the captains, Sara Daher ’18 and Emma Jarczyk ’18 definitely lead by example, train hard and swim fast.
SM: They do a really good job but they are more there to help guide you along.
KM: What have you learned?
EC: If you commit to the program you will see results.
SM: Hard work pays off.
KM: What are you most looking forward to?
SM: Definitely NESCACs. That’s the biggest meet. I would love to go to nationals but first we need to get to NESCACs.
KM: What’s something the Bates community doesn’t know about the Swim and Dive Team?
SM: We are a quirky bunch.
EC: In a good way though.
SM: We are all really different people…
EC: But we mesh really well together.
SM: The fact that we swim together brings us together and it’s great.
EC: You really form a bond when you have to swim at 5:30 a.m. in the morning together.
KM: If you could give your pre-college self some advice, what would it be?
EC: It’s not that hard. I was stressed coming in to it that it would be really hard.
SM: I would definitely say it’s not as hard as everyone says it is, but at the end of the day you still need to know how to buckle down and do the work.
KM: What does it mean to represent Bates?
SM: It’s awesome. When you are at a meet and see Bates on top you feel like you are a part of something bigger.
EC: It’s special we get to do that. When you score points it’s awesome knowing its going towards something and when we win, it’s cool knowing you contributed to it.
SM: When you win a meet, it’s not you who won but Bates who did.
KM: What has been the best moment so far?
SM: I’d say the best moments aren’t even swimming but rather standing on the side of pool cheering people on and watching them work hard.
EC: It’s fun being so supportive to my teammates and then receiving that when it is my turn.
KM: Tell me a fun fact about your experience so far.
SM: I have two donuts after every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday morning practices.
EC: After every morning practice, I question my choice of 8:00 a.m. class, but then I always end up going.
SM: Yes, it’s funny but true!
KM: What would you like to tell Bates?
SM: Everyone come cheer us on at Tarbell!
EC: I agree. Having people there cheering us on makes it a lot easier to swim faster.
SM: And the more the merrier!