Sophia Moses, 12, swims year-round. Stephen Morrissey, 15, is a summer-only swimmer. Each has a different approach to the sport, but each was having a good time on June 28 as a member of the Dominion Hills swim team.
This Monday meet at Lee-Graham in Falls Church was for development purposes and wasn’t scored. The competitive aspect of swimming for the Warriors came two days prior, when Moses took first in the freestyle and butterfly in the 11-12 girls division, and Morrissey was part of the winning men’s 15-18 medley relay team during a meet against Highland Park (HP won 216-186).
The Dominion Hills Warriors compete in Division 8 of the Northern Virginia Swim League. While upper divisions (1, 2, etc.) are primarily about competition, lower divisions (through 17) incorporate a sense of casual fun. With the Warriors being in the middle, head coach Nina Kuziel, who will be a counselor at Washington-Lee High School in the fall, deals with both aspects.
"You have to meet each swimmer where they’re at individually and figure out what their goals are," Kuziel said. "Do they want to have fun? Do they want to get a personal best? Do they want to be serious?"
Moses, who attends Swanson Middle School, has been swimming with Dominion Hills since the age of 6. She recently started swimming year-round after previously competing in basketball and tae kwon do. While she puts in the time and effort to succeed — she swims five or six days per week in the summer and two or three days a week in the winter — she also swims for fun.
"I like it because there are a lot of my friends here and I enjoy swimming," said Moses, whose favorite stroke is the butterfly. "It’s really fun because there are a lot of team-building activities," including a Jell-O tug-of-war and a Jell-O slip-and-slide.
MORRISSEY, WHO will be a freshman at H.B. Woodlawn Secondary Program, plays club hockey, lacrosse and basketball along with swimming. Hockey is his primary sport, but Morrissey said he enjoys the feeling of individual accomplishment swimming brings.
"I don’t do many other [individual] sports," he said, "so it’s fun to race against other kids just for myself."
Morrissey’s favorite stroke is the butterfly.
"I like when you take a breath and you see all the other kids behind you," he said, "and then when you get out of the water and you’re the first person to finish."
Kuziel, in her second season coaching the Warriors, described Dominion Hills, which has more than 100 kids competing, as a friendly environment.
"I think this team is kind of like a big family," she said. "Everyone is born into it. They stick around together. The whole family stays there for a really long time. I was coming in as an outsider last year and I felt very welcomed and part of the family, which was nice."
DURING THE WARRIORS’ meet against Highland Park on June 26, six Dominion Hills swimmers won multiple events. Gwen Bobst finished first in the 13-14 girls butterfly and backstroke, Grayson Jazwick won the 9-10 boys butterfly and backstroke, Gregory Lemek won the 15-18 boys freestyle and butterfly, Kevin Morris-Larkin finished atop them boys 8-and-under freestyle and backstroke, Abby Young won the 15-18 girls freestyle and backstroke and Moses won the 11-12 girls freestyle and butterfly.
Geoffrey Ax (9-10 boys breaststroke), James Hughes (13-14 boys backstroke), Nathan Hughes (15-18 boys breaststroke), Haley Saner (15-18 girls breaststroke) and Mackenzie Ullom (9-10 girls breaststroke) each won one event for Dominion Hills.
The Warriors also had five relay teams win: 8 and under boys freestyle (KJ Morris-Larkin, Bennet Curtis, Jacob Swisher, Henry Uz), 9-10 boys medley (Scott Larsen, Jazwick, Luke Hepp, Noah Swisher), 15-18 boys medley (Nathan Hughes, Patrick Morris, Morrissey, Lemek), 15-18 girls medley (Young, Devon Harkins, Haley Sanner, Erinn Spack) and boys mixed age freestyle (Jazwick, Eric Weiner, James Hughes, Nathan Hughes).