Boys swim and dive: into the deep end

Nick Vanni, Beyond Liberty Editor

Into the water the swimmers dive, vessels of pure power rushing through the deep. Down under the water, their efficient push offs from the wall jet them out in front among a race of six young guys, their form coming to good use as they surface halfway down the pool without a single stroke. They glide through the water, with noticeably minimal splash, and even keep their speed with robust kicking when they aren’t stroking.
These are the best of Liberty’s Boys swim and dive Team, and they know what they’re doing. You may know the simple doggy paddle, or even the breaststroke, but after years of swim, these athletes know the pool by heart. No longer confined to the shallow depths of the kiddie pools of the past, they can swim extraordinary lengths, swimming anywhere from three thousand to four thousand meters a day–around two miles–and regularly swim intense workouts.
“It’s brutal, but it’s fun,” junior Warren Briggs said. As one of the team’s top athletes–described as a “madman” this season by coach Kris Daughters regarding his performance–Briggs helps to bring the team together, creating a fun, dynamic environment. “We like to joke around, mess around, throw each other into the pool, all the while trying to do the best we can.”
Junior Bruce Vagt, teammate to Briggs and a newcomer to the team despite years of club swim, described this comradery in a somewhat different regard. “Imagine you’re with your closest group of buddies, except you’re only in your underwear, and you’re just like that for an hour and a half every single day. From that, you get close, and you get into that group mentality of ‘Oh, this sucks, but we’re going to laugh through it,’ keeping our tight-knit group of friends together.”
A fun, forgiving, yet all the time supporting culture shines through in moments such as when sophomore Ian DeVogel asked, with support coming from both Briggs and Vagt, if he could add a sixteen-pound jar of beans to his packing list for the Districts meet (later cancelled due to severe snow) during Daughters’ pre-trip talk. It’s shenanigans like this that keep the boys swim and dive team together as a group of great friends, and this friendship is the key to their success.
Briggs agreed, also pointing out that this team is the best he’s seen yet. “The time that we all want to be there, and to help each other reach our goals is when we as a team will be the strongest, the fastest we can or ever will be.” And it’s obvious that this team’s personality is as strong as ever, since swimmers Briggs and DeVogel—as well as junior Brian Kim, sophomore Andrew Kim, junior Amon Rittenberg, senior Justin Ung, Vagt, junior TJ Tribble, and junior Alex Nguyen—made it to State.
Vagt summarized the hopes of the team: “We have a lot of strong individual swimmers, and that will surely help us at State.” And it sure did help out—as the team set two new school records, in the 200 freestyle relay (which consisted of Rittenberg, DeVogel, Kim and Briggs) and the 500 freestyle (set by Briggs), Briggs taking home the state championship.
The boys swim and dive team has a culture unlike any other team at Liberty, giving them both a fun base to launch off of, and a culture that allows the team’s athletes to achieve greatness.