Through recent years, the St. John Paul II swimmers have created the unique motto which has appeared on t-shirts – “Our family versus your team.”
In sheer numbers, they fall far shy of many of the larger teams they compete against. However, what they may lack in strength they more than make up for with heart.
“It’s like we’re just one big family,” said sophomore captain Sophie Bailey. “We have several swimmers where this is their first time on the team, so it’s nice to be one of the leaders and help the new swimmers.”
Integrating the newcomers to the program and making them feel at home has been the norm at swimming practice for the Lions. Practices are held at the Sandwich High School indoor pool, but it’s not much different from welcoming their brother and sister swimmers to the living room.
“I look forward to coming out here every day,” said fellow captain, senior Ashlinn Hoffmeister. “Everyone is just so comfortable with each other. Everyone has such a good heart on the team and really support each other.”
The family concept is something that has been integrated over the years by coach Jena Brown, who takes the family thing one step further. Her assistant coach is her mom, Jo-Ann Lacoste.
“The point is that they’re more than just a team. We’re small in numbers, so we do more here than just swim,” she said. “We teach life lessons, leadership and things that are going to help them further in life.”