Diving Into Swim With Alayna Lucas and Claire Pouliot

Serina Chan, Sports Editor

Sophomores Alayna Lucas and Claire Pouliot entered their second season of swimming for Minnechaug, hoping to achieve new records for themselves. As the season eventually came to an end, and the postseason arrived, they both qualified for Western Mass and States.

“I was really excited for the relays,” says Lucas when asked about States, “but I was also nervous because I wanted to do well.”
Throughout the offseason, Lucas and Pouliot stay in top condition by playing other sports at Minnechaug. Although each sport is difficult in its own way, Pouliot explains that “swimming is a lot different than any other team sport. You have to do individually well for your team.”

With that in mind, the pressure of expectations stayed in their minds. Lucas and Pouliot understood the importance of hard work and dedication at every single practice. Even though swimming has its own individual aspects, one of their biggest motivations to work so hard comes from the support of their teammates.

“Thinking about the commitment to swim,” says Pouliot, “what it means to be a member of the team is what motivates me. We all go through a training process, and the team just feels like a friendship.”

“I feel better that I’m going with people because I know that everyone is feeling the same way, and everyone wants to do well in their specific events,” says Lucas about States.

Their swim coach, Coach Mandel, has also impacted their swimming careers immensely. “I try to push myself to do better because I want to make Coach Mandel happy,” says Lucas. “Coach Mandel puts pressure on us because he wants us to succeed and win, he knows we can. He lives for this,” says Pouliot.

Despite the fact that swimming holds so many mixed feelings for the two, such as nerves, excitement, and fear, they both have learned a lot of lessons from each winter season that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.

“I’ve learned to trust myself. I know my own limits, and not to let someone else tell me what my limits are. Or, what my limits aren’t. If I’m being pushed and I know it’s not good for me, I know myself and that I need to stop. That’s part of my job, to take care of myself,” says Pouliot.