The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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Swim and Dive named 2023-2024 District Champions

Image courtesy of Julia Wang
Securing the title as champions, the Jefferson Swim and Dive team poses with their National District Champions banner. “We were undefeated on the girls and guys side,” senior captain Paige Burke said. “I’m really proud of everyone.”

Bringing home yet another win, Jefferson’s Swim and Dive team was crowned District Champions this past week on Friday, Jan. 26. Undefeated since 2014, this has been the team’s tenth consecutive win.

Districts brought in swimmers from Mt.Vernon, Hayfield, Justice, Annandale, Lewis, Falls Church, and Edison. The Jefferson Swim and Dive team showed significant improvement from last year, with most of their swimmers dropping times across multiple events. 

“I did a lot better than I do at a regular swim meet. It’s a much more competitive atmosphere, [and] it’s a lot more fun,” junior Ari Kaplan said. “Everyone does a lot better at Districts [compared to other meets]. We always drop a lot of time and we always do really well.”

The preliminary meet on Friday, Jan. 26 was followed by finals on Saturday, Jan. 27. After four heats of every event, the top 16 swimmers from the preliminary meet moved on to finals, where they were able to swim the same events again, as well as the relay events for the first time. 

“Going into the preliminaries there’s no stress. It’s pretty easy for most people. But when you get to finals, it gets pretty competitive,” Kaplan said. “I think a lot of people got negative, and I personally was more negative.” 

Many swimmers had personal aspirations and moments of accomplishment during this year’s Districts. For sophomore Julia Wang, dropping time in the 100-yard butterfly event was a big achievement, especially after an injury she experienced. 

“I’m definitely proud that I’ve been able to improve my 100 [yard] fly time,” Wang said. “Fly used to be my best stroke, but when I broke my arms, it prevented me from being able to grow into a stronger swimmer. The fact that I’m able to still improve on my fly, especially when we’re at a physical peak where it’s hard to improve times is really special to me.”

Despite the hardships, Jefferson swimmers expressed their gratitude for the team’s strong teamwork. Jefferson swimmers cheered hard for all of their fellow teammates, lifting each other up both on land and in the water. 

“I’m swimming breaststroke and I’ll do a turn and there’s, like, a hundred people yelling down at me when I’m swimming,” senior captain Paige Burke said. “It’s always exciting to have that kind of energy.”

As a medalist of four different events at her last District tournament this year as a senior, Burke hopes to leave behind a legacy of teamwork and excitement on the Jefferson swim team. 

“Leaving behind that energy and excitement is important to me,” Burke said. “[It’s also important to me that] everyone can show up to Districts and cheer [the team on] even if they’re not swimming. I think that’s also a really important part of being on the team.”

What comes next on Feb. 9 is the Regionals tournament, an opportunity for the team to qualify for States. 

“[In preparation for Regionals], I want to work on my starts and a couple of mechanical things,” Burke said. “I have two weeks, so a week to train really hard and get into the best shape possible, and then a week to taper to get fast.”

Getting ready for their post-season journey, the Jefferson swim team wrapped up a successful 2023-2024 season. 

“The success at the meets and doing well at Districts is really important to us, but it’s also really important to us that we have a team where everyone feels like a member of the team and is excited to be there,” Burke said. “I think the vibes were very good this year and I was really happy about that.”

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