Swimmers Challenged as School Hosts Founders League Championship


Dasha Post '23

Luis Soto-Moyers ’22 races at the Founders League Championship.

For the first time since early 2019, the school hosted the Founders Swimming Championships at Hixon Pool on February 26, capping off the end to both the boy’s and girl’s teams’ season. The swim team faced some of their toughest competitors, more specifically their long standing rivals, Choate and Loomis. The school’s swimmers enjoyed a home pool advantage. Rahul Kalavagunta ’22 said, “Hotchkiss has, without a doubt, the best pool in the league, so swimming Founders here helps us have the home court advantage, and gives us an opportunity to swim faster than we would otherwise. Considering how few meets at Hotchkiss we’ve had in the past few years, we’re really excited to be in our home pool for the end of the season.”

The championship worked a little differently with more schools participating than the conventional two-team meets of the season. The event progressed in the same regular swimming order, but ran significantly longer. Instead of only having one heat of swimmers per event, each event had multiple, progressively faster heats, based on seed times. Each school can score a limited number of swimmers per event, with relays counting for extra points.

Although the Founders championships have been going on for many years, both the boys and girls teams consist of fairly new members, with many underclass students never having raced at a prep school championship meet, since the Covid-19 pandemic interrupted regular competition for the past two years. Kalavagunta said, “It’s natural to be nervous for any championship meet, especially when you’re new on the team.”

To prepare for Founders, both varsity swimming teams were on taper, which is a period of doing shorter practices after weeks of intense training and interval work. The distance and intervals on sets get easier, and the focus turns more to sprint work and intensity, giving muscles the chance to recover. It is important for swimmers to let their muscles rest before important meets because this allows swimmers to have a higher level of physical preparation. Rahul Kalavagunta ’22 said, “Tapering was a key part of our strategy for Founders, as it allowed us to fully realize the gains we’ve made this season, and swim faster than we ever have.”

Individual events are scored equally, but relays count for more, making them the team’s biggest focus for training. Other than that, the varsity team is especially strong in distance freestyle and other strokes, the 200 yard individual medley, 500 yard freestyle, and the 100 yard Back/Breast/Fly.

Both the boys and girls teams placed third overall at the Founders Championships, with Loomis and Choate taking first and second on both sides. Standout swims on the teams included first place finishes by captain Emily Bukowski ’22 in the 100 yard Breastroke and 50 yard Freestyle, captain Carter Levine ’22 in the 100 yard Backstroke, and James Yae ’23 in the 100 yard  Breastroke. The relay teams were also majorly successful, with Carter Levine ’22, James Yae ’23, Ryan Tse ’23, and Alex Tolis ’23 taking gold in the Boys 200 Medley Relay, and Amelie Zhang ’23, Quisha Lee ’24, Abby Renger ’23, and Bukowski placing second in the Girls 200 Freestyle Relay.