Written by Jon Biros, Aquatics Director at SCIS Hongqiao
The 2023-2024 swim team season started smoothly and after two weeks of open swims and tryouts, the team was selected. Add an additional four Fridays of swim clinic and four weeks of Lower School swim lessons, and a 124-member team was formed. With coaches, Carson (since 2015), Seven (2015), Ryan (2021), and me, a newbie at the helm, our goal of forming a team to rival bygone years had begun. It was in 2008 that SCIS dived into competitive swimming. In that time our presence in the region was noteworthy. It's an incredible feeling to represent your school in sports and our swimmers take pride in wearing the Dragon logo. Competitive swimming builds confidence, community, team mindset, dedication, and resilience as it nurtures important lessons like leadership, commitment, time management, camaraderie, risk-taking, and goal setting. As Coach Ryan adds, “Being on the team encourages students to be a positive role model in and out of the pool”.
On September 23, the swim team kicked off with a splash at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center, the pool that hosted Michael Phelps and the 2011 FINA World Championships. The meet was Fast and Furious by name and by nature with over 1000 swimmers from ages 7 to 19 competing. A total of 43 SCIS Dragons took part and swam their hearts out with all our swimmers obtaining at least one personal best time (PBT), a team performance goal. Placing in the top ten in at least one event were swimmers Bel, Julia, and Justin, while Gavin also captured a bronze and a fourth place with our top swimmer Meadow medaling in all her events with first place and three third place finishes.
After a Golden Week of R&R, 84 swimmers from Grades 3 to 12 competed in the Shanghai Swim League (SSL) Round 1 competition hosted by Shanghai Singapore International School. Swimmers and parents were delighted to access another school campus without restriction and compete face-to-face with 10 other schools. Combining the results of our SSL West division and SSL East division (at Dulwich College Pudong), SCIS Dragons placed ninth out of the 20 teams. For our first large team performance of the year, the coaches were encouraged by the results, both on an individual basis and our performance as a team. 87% of our team obtained a PBT in one of their individual events and 47% recorded a personal best time in all three of their events. The top swimmers with a second or third-place medal finish were Justin, Bel, Julia, and Sofia. Our team had a solid relay performance with our 11-12 boys and 13-14 boys placing third in both the freestyle relay and medley relay and the 13-14 girls placing third in freestyle and second in medley.
At the end of October, our top 34 swimmers qualified to compete at the annual SAS/ISB Swimvitational, held this year at SAS Puxi. It was an exciting event with 650+ talented swimmers from Beijing and Shanghai competing over three days. Our team had an impressive event performance with PBT at 86%. The top four swimmers were Julia, Yi Qing, and Sofia with Justin capturing a second-place finish in the 400 IM and setting a new SCIS record in the event. In the combined team scores, SCIS placed 10th out of 17 scoring teams. The competition was impressive, and we established a benchmark moving forward to greater success in the year.
In our 16 years of Dragon Swim Team existence, over 1,600 SCIS Hongqiao students have been part of our team’s success. As current captain Sofie says “I’m honored to be on the team, it has taught me to be patient, and good things will come. People come and go but the team is a constant.” Clearly being a Dragon Swim Team member is an experience our students benefit from and will remember and celebrate for years to come.
SCIS. Aquatic Dragons.