Prairie fields – or rather, pools – first swim team in school history.
This story originally appeared in the fall issue of Prairie.
On the first day of swim practice, Coach Yoav Meiri arrived to find not a single athlete had brought along a cap or goggles.
This might not always fly with a varsity-level coach. But when your sport is brand-new to the school, you make a few concessions.
“Some of them had never even put their face in the water” Meiri remarks.
The 2018-19 school year marks the addition of Prairie’s first ever Upper School Swimming & Diving Teams — girls’ in the fall, boys’ in the winter. The Prairie-Racine St. Catherine’s co-op teams will compete as members of the Southern Lakes Conference, led by Meiri, a Prairie parent, former All-American at the University of Minnesota, Olympian, and twenty-time Israeli champion.
In its first season, the PSC Aquatics girls’ team garnered fourteen members — half from Prairie, half from St. Cat’s. Almost every member of this inaugural squad is a beginner, and they like it that way.
“I have no idea what I’m doing, but neither does anyone else,” chuckles Prairie Junior Hannah Hua. “It’s really good to have everyone start off fresh together.”
“We can all learn and struggle together,” agrees Senior Sarah Pettinger.
“We get to set the tone for the program this year, and going forward.”
Coach Meiri says his team’s beginner status will undoubtedly dictate the kind of success they achieve. But it will also give them a benchmark for progress.
“We’re not going to have a state qualifier this season. We’re not going to have a conference champion. But, we’ll go to every meet, we’ll have fun, and we’ll do our best,” Meiri says. “What they lack in experience, they make up for in enthusiasm.”
For the time being, PSC teams will practice at the YMCA Lake Avenue pool, since Prairie doesn’t have a pool of its own on campus — although that’s a long-term dream for the program, Meiri says, along with expanding to Prairie’s Middle and Primary Schools.
For now, he says, the goal is to develop a love for the sport in as many Hawks as possible.
“I recognize Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was a Prairie swim team. This is the first step.”