China Cup 2018 Swimming: Individual, Not Alone
To a swimmer, few things are as thrilling as the sound of nearby cheers, piercing through the water. Coupled with the staccato rhythm of their kicks and the agile movement of their strokes, the feeling that it brings them is one of pure bliss. A few HKIS swimmers were able to experience this joy at the China Cup Swimming Tournament, held at the International School of Beijing between January 19th and 21st.
Though the competition was fierce, the HKIS girls were able to defend their title as the reigning champions of China Cup, scoring 176 points. With only eight swimmers, the boys were still able to get 71 points, bringing the HKIS total to 247. Special commendations go to Sammy Morton (‘18) and Brian Versteeg (‘18), both of whom placed first in three races. In addition, Claire Kiely (‘20) brought home two gold medals, while Ivy Richter (‘18), Sonja Chen (‘20), Alys Lindsay (‘21), and Alyssa Giles (‘19) each won one of their races. In the 400 meter Free Relay, the girls also ranked first.
As a tournament, China Cup is quite unique. According to girls co-captain Ivy Richter, it “is a quick, fast-paced meet with back to back races for all swimmers.” Unlike APAC, where participants have the time to cheer on their teammates, China Cup keeps swimmers moving. Although this reduces the number of spectators, it heightens the energy of the contest, leaving swimmers feeling exhausted after only one day of competition.
Still, many athletes see China Cup as a bonding experience. Recounting memorable moments, Alys Lindsey recalls spending time with her homestay, saying “[S]he played the guitar for us and took us out… shopping.”
In a similar vein, Richter counts the team relays as one of the highlights of this experience. She states, “I'd have to say the memorable moments for me always come down to the relays. All teams come together, taking a more individualised sport and creating a stronger team dynamic. It also adds a lot of energy and cheering to the pool area, with large amounts of spirit...” While swimming is almost always oriented towards the individual, the relationships forged at meets create a strong sense of kinship between the athletes. Ultimately, though they compete solo, they are never alone in their quest for victory.
This sense of interdependence helped the boys through some rough patches. Brook Xiao (‘21) remembers feeling fear after his goggles fell off during the relay. He worried that he would face the ridicule of his teammates, but—instead of criticizing him—they were highly supportive. Moreover, despite catching the flu, members of the boy's team were still able to pull a solid performance with the motivation of their peers.
Overall, both teams achieved excellent results at China Cup. Through blood, sweat, and a lot of morning sessions, they honed their skills, flaunting their near-flawless technique at China Cup. Though they went in as a group of individuals, they came out as a team. With each passing year, rosters shift and athletes move beyond the gates of HKIS. Still, the sense of community formed at these tournaments remains. Still, the HKIS swimmers, though competing as individuals, never stand alone.