On Saturday, Sept. 25, both the FSC men and women’s swim teams attended the UNF Season kickoff in Jacksonville, alongside five other colleges in the Florida-Georgia area. The men’s team stole 1st place with a team score of 988.5, while the women’s team took 3rd with 519 points.
Despite it being the first meet of the season, the freshmen class heavily contributed to their team scores. But according to most of them, their wins were outshined by the overwhelming experience of their first college meet.
“This meet had a lot more energy than high school meets had,” freshman Janie Davis said. “Every team was up and cheering on their teammates behind the lanes, and it made it way more exciting than what I’m used to.”
Freshman Niko Frese agreed.
“In Germany, we don’t have any team rankings on normal meets, which is why the team spirit is by far not as good as here,” Frese said. “[The cheering] gave me a lot of motivation and helped me swim well since the practice last week was pretty hard.”
Olivia Miles, freshman, attested that the Mocs are “a lot more team oriented” than her team back home too. Coming all the way from Margate, UK, having her first collegiate meet in the United States felt like a huge change.
“I loved swimming in an outdoor pool,” Miles said. It was the first time she had ever raced outside, as all meets in the UK are held indoors- even during the summer season.
Another international student, freshman Maja Erikkson, continued to explain how different American meets are to those in Europe.
“It’s such a big difference in a good way,” Erikkson said. “The team atmosphere here is so much better and everyone supports each other. It’s also different to swim in yards instead of meters, but I think I’ll get used to it soon.”
On the other hand, Italian freshman, Ludovico Viberti, described American meets as “more intense.”
“I’m not an expert, but from what I saw I can say that American ones [meets] are more intense,” Viberti said. “Yesterday, I did seven events in five hours. The team result is very important here and the unfolding of events is different, faster, and maybe a bit more confusing.”
So confusing that freshman Alizee Pelletier, didn’t quite understand the format of the meet.
“In France, we have a waiting room before races, so I was a little bit confused when I was walking to my block directly,” she said. “[Also] in my country we have 3 judges [officials] on each side of each lane. [Here] there were just maybe 5 or 6 people around the pool.”
While there are obvious cultural differences between American and European swimming, the sport as a whole is a place of common ground, unifying each Moc swimmer. At the end of the day, they all share the same passion for the pool.