“Each One Teach One” has the Gryphons Out in Front

In the words of Holy Child head swim coach Kerby Lewis, Sami Jaile was “a bit nervous” prior to the 50-meter freestyle January 25 against Convent of the Sacred Heart. Convent’s elite program had placed first in each event to that point and was on their way to victory, so Lewis defused the intimidation bomb with a pep talk.

It worked. Jaile swam the race of her life, touching out her closest opponent, and shaved a two whole seconds off her previous best time in the sport’s breakneck sprint.

“She never gave up the entire race, finished hard and was rewarded with a victory,” said Lewis. “That has been my proudest moment this season. To have such a great result was amazing after seeing her a little anxious while discussing strategy.”

The Gryphons have many reasons to smile

Interestingly, the coach’s “proudest moment” came by way of her team’s lone win in a trouncing. More interestingly, it was Holy Child’s only loss of the season. The Gryphons are currently 6-1, and the team’s nascent success has caught their first-year coach by surprise.

“It is difficult to pinpoint one quality about the team that is the best,” said Lewis, “but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We laugh a lot and each girl’s personality is unique. It’s not just wins and losses … they are a great group of young women.”

Lewis stressed that each member of her 38-student squad is important. The large roster of swimmers, ranging from freshmen to seniors, had made for intense competition in practice and led the Gryphons to believe they can take on any challenge together.

At the top are the seniors. Freestylers Erin Callahan, Kirsten Hantho, and Megan McLaughlin — who doubles in the breaststroke — began the year as tri-captains. Catherine Corbett became a fourth during the season, thanks to her penchant for being the first swimmer at the pool, even at 6:15 a.m. practices.

Lewis, a Badger Swim Club veteran who has been coaching for eight years, listed a few more of her “go-to” swimmers: Junior Ashley Ravesloot (200 IM, breaststroke, backstroke), sophomore Kaitlyn Guttridge (200 and 500 freestyle), and freshmen Jackie DeMarco (200 IM, butterfly) and Mikaela Fitzwilliam (500 freestyle) are always willing to swim any event with maximum effort. The coach also mentioned seniors Bridget McGowan and Kristen Norrgard, both butterflyers, as a pair she relies on for top-notch performances.

Beyond individual abilities, the backbone of Holy Child’s rise is the family atmosphere — both literal and figurative — the students have cultivated. The team has four sets of sisters and a pair of cousins, though you don’t have to be a blood relative to be taken under the wing of the veterans.

“I had a hard time at first figuring out which grade each swimmer was in, because they all socialize together and get along so well,” said Lewis. “The more experienced girls have been setting a great example for the younger swimmers.”

With such a firm foundation, it shouldn’t be difficult for the Gryphons to maintain their pace and achieve the goal they set for themselves at the season’s outset: to improve and have fun.

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