Club swimming wins Team of the Year Award at National Championships
Swimmers cite community bonding and team-building as key to win
The American University club swimming team, AU’s newest club sport, won Team of the Year on April 1 at the College Club Swimming National Championships.
Elise Buellesbach, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs and president of the team, said that they were nominated for the award and she accepted and submitted them for consideration.
In the application, Buellesbach said that she emphasized the members of the club were “teammates before swimmers. We are our own biggest cheerleaders!” Buellesbach said that she did not expect the team to win with many bigger teams in the running for the award.
Buellesbach said that this award affirms all of the things that she and the rest of the club’s leadership have instilled in their swimmers throughout the year.
“This award was about the team, their dynamic as friends, teammates and supporters,” Buellesbach said. “We need you to know how to swim, and not drown. It doesn’t matter if you’re a state champion or learning to love swimming, it’s a place where you’re welcome. [This award] speaks to who we are as people, as supporters of each other. I tell them all the time that we are the teamiest team.”
Eve Bryner and Adam Liewehr, members of the team and freshmen in the College of Arts and Sciences, reinforced this idea. They talked about their weekly schedule, saying that practice is held every night, except for Fridays, when the club holds team-building and bonding activities.
The championships were held at The Ohio State University this year. Buellesbach said that it was one of the best trips she had ever been able to plan and be a part of.
The team sent 11 swimmers to the championships, and while none of them made it out of the preliminary stages, the team broke 14 personal and team records.
“Whenever there was an AU swimmer in the water, we may have been one of the smallest teams there, but we were surely the loudest,” Bullesbach said.
After the meet, Buellesbach said that she asked each of the swimmers what their favorite part of the trip was, and many said that it was the seven hour car rides there and back. She said that their connections with each other is what made those rides bearable and even fun at times.
Bryner did not go to the championships, but participated in watch parties that she and the rest of the swimmers held on AU’s campus. With the championships livestreamed, the team was able to cheer on its teammates from home, and Bryner said that the energy in the room during those parties was spirited, and goes to show the spirit the entire team has.
Buellesbach, Liewehr and Bryner all spoke on the future of the team, with all of them mentioning that they want to continue the club’s growth both as a competitive team and as a community of people wanting to see each other succeed.
Buellesbach wants to continue to grow relationships with other club swim programs from around the D.C. area. She specifically mentioned George Washington University and Georgetown University’s club swimming programs as some she would like the program to cultivate these relationships with. This will likely come from hosting meets for schools in the area.
Buellesbach said she is excited for what is to come. She mentioned that Liewehr and Bryner are the epitome of the team and that she is ecstatic to see what they do during their time in club swimming.
Buellesbach’s vision for AU club swimming is “to build a place where people can be happy and swim.”
This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis.