“We are Leesville; we are Pride! We are Leesville; we are Pride!” chanted about two dozen teenagers in green Speedos on a pool deck in Smithfield. It was the swim team’s third meet of the season, and the men’s team first meet win in over three years.
Before the meet started, Zach Speerschneider, Joe Mabry, and Waseen Zaarour — team captains and seniors — gathered all the boys on the swim team for a pep talk. The boys had a chance to win the meet against the competition, Cary High and Wake Forest, for the first time this season. “Going into to the meet, we were hoping to come out with our first win in about three to five years. We’ve been training hard these past few weeks and we just wanted to prove what we are made of,” said Speerschneider.
The meet went off to a good start with a first place finish for the men in the 200-yard medley relay. Their streak continued throughout the meet, with wins from sophomores Brian Duke and Seth Brodnick catapulting the men to first place halfway through the session.
The meet win wasn’t looking so certain, however, after the 200-freestyle relay: Wake Forest barely out-touched Leesville, scoring first. However, the Wake Forest team was disqualified, crowning Leesville as the de facto winner. A first place finish from Duke and a second place finish from Speerschneider in the 100-backstroke and 100-breastroke, respectively, set them further ahead.
It all came to head during the 400-freestyle relay, where Leesville destroyed the competition, finishing a solid seven seconds ahead of the second place finisher and sealing their first win in several seasons.
Speerschneider has hope that the Smithfield meet will encourage the men’s team the rest of the season. “I think that we are going to do good [the rest of the season]. Obviously this meet is a good confidence booster and they will go into the next meet thinking, you know, rather than, ‘oh, will we win our first meet?’ Now it’s going to be ‘Let’s win the second one.’ We’ve already won one, so it’s definitely possible.”
While winning meets remains important, it’s not the swim team’s only focus. Team atmosphere also contributes significantly to the team’s success. “It’s not super serious all the time, we definitely are serious during meets and stuff, but at the end of the day, not everyone’s going to make the Olympics, and you’re not going to remember the times that you go[t]. You’re going to remember the memories that you made with your teammates. So we just try to have a lighter mood and have fun,” said Speerschneider.
Leesville’s Swim Team competes again tonight at the Triangle Aquatic Center at 7:00 p.m.