It’s 5:00am. The sky is dark, snow is falling, and the wind is piercing the air. And while most students would be still sleeping, the members of the Forest Hills Boys Swim and Dive Team are up and ready to begin swim practice.
“It’s such a big time commitment,” said senior and captain Josh Ball. “We practice everyday after school, some mornings, and even on Saturdays. You are just always tired.”
Most of the swimmers on the team began swimming around the age of 5. As the years passed by, the level of difficulty increased. The switch from club swim to high school swim was a huge adjustment for some, for the amount of practices and commitment got more and more brutal.
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the swimmers get up early to go and lift before school starts. Then after school, they head to the pool for about 2 hours of rigorous training and practice.
Since November until now, the boys have been preparing for one of the biggest qualifying meets: The Conference Meet. According to Josh, they have harder practices, more yards, and faster sets. With practices everyday and meets every weekend, Josh believes that the team has a really big chance of winning the whole thing.
“This year our team, especially with all of the new freshmen, is really good,” Josh said. “Our freshman class is really very strong.”
Many of the new members have already broken records, improved on times, or qualified for the state meet.
“The swimming is definitely more intense,” said freshman Kazuya Iwatsu. “But we have done really [well] at our past meets and are currently undefeated.”
Although the success of the team is remarkable, the comraderie between the boys is one of the most cherished parts of being on the team.
“We are more than just another team,” said freshman swimmer Charlie Krug, “We have all gotten so close and you can just feel the connection [between everyone].”
According to Kazuya, the team feels more like a family rather than just a swim team. They have spent hours on end with each other and while there are age differences, they have grown to be as close as brothers.
“My favorite part of the team is definitely being so close with everyone,” Josh said. “We do a lot of team building and really the whole sport is bonding through suffering.”
Some of that team building and suffering comes from honoring traditions, such as bleaching their hair blonde.
“It started about 20 years ago. We were at a meet and noticed that another team had dyed their hair all different colors,” Josh said, “Our coach would not let us do that, but instead agreed on us bleaching our hair blonde. It has stuck ever since.”
Although walking around the school with a different and vibrant hair color may be embarrassing, everyone agrees that it is one of their favorite traditions brought with being on the team. According to Charlie, bleaching his hair shows unity and makes him feel unique among the school.
“Personally, I think seeing everyone with blonde hair is hilarious,” Kazuya said. “I went from black hair to blonde hair, so I had a really big change. It’s funny to see everyone’s reactions when we walk down the halls.”
Not only do they bleach their hair, but before the big Conference Meet, all of the blonde hair is waved goodbye. The boys of the swim team are planning to shave their heads and provide a “leg up” at the meet.
“I can’t wait to shave my head,” Kaz said, “It’s going to be really different and it’s going to be another fun bonding moment with everyone.”
So whether it be shaving, bleaching, swimming, or bonding, the Blonde Squad of FHC has had a season full of excitement.
“Being a senior, you definitely take a step back and realize how far you’ve come and how much you have experienced [with the team],” Josh said, “It’s been so cool to watch everyone mesh together and grow to be such an amazing team.”