Once it was announced that Cairo American College had placed 2nd overall at ISSTs, Emily Gossett (’16) and fellow swimmers were ecstatic. ASL swimming had achieved first place overall, ending Cairo’s eight-year streak of consecutive first place finishes. “My whole team instantly felt the feeling of victory and the rest of the day was 10 times brighter,” Gossett said.
Omar Elmasry (’14) agrees with Gossett regarding their reaction to knowing they had won first place overall. As a co-captain, he was incredibly proud of all the hard work that the team had done throughout the year and knows that it resulted in them winning gold. “It’s hard to pick my favorite part, because there were so many points during the meet that made me proud to be captain,” Elmasry said.
All four of the ASL teams finished top three overall, with eight individual swimmers earning medals. William Rittenhouse (’14) placed first in three individual events, and highlighted this ISSTs as the most competitive since his first ISSTs in Grade 7. “Not only were there many swimmers from several schools that swim year-round on a club team, the athletes who just train with their school really stepped up their game as well this year,” Rittenhouse said.
For the Thursday afternoon session, the entire High School had a shortened schedule to travel to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where swimming ISSTs were taking place. As this was the only home swim meet ASL has ever hosted, the support that ASL had was something that no one had ever experienced before. “We have never once had spectators besides [Physical Education Teacher] Mrs. Williams and it felt so good to look up in the stands and see all your friends,” Gossett said. “Although half the school may not have understood what was going on and was probably dying of heat, it means more to us than you understand.”
Rittenhouse also found it to be an amazing experience swimming in the same pool that was used in the 2012 Olympics. “The pool itself is fantastic and the facilities [are] top-of-the-line, which I believe contributed to the fast times achieved this year. Never before have I thought, ‘Michael Phelps won his last Olympic medal here’ while standing behind the blocks waiting for my race,” Rittenhouse said.
This accomplishment was swimming’s first overall gold medal since 2001, and Gossett knows that it will not be easy next year to build on this achievement. “I’m ready for next year. Who knows what the competition will bring, but I plan on training hard throughout the year when I can and trying to keep in shape to bring home another gold next year in The Hague,” Gossett said.
Olivia Halsted (’17) described the season as a “surprise” and that the best thing about the experience was the JV girls’ performance. “I was really happy that the JV girls came first, and that we all had such an amazing season and great ISST swims,” Halsted said.
JD Costello (’17) said that the ISST win was the “main highlight of the season” and could only have been accomplished because “we spent so much time together in and out of the pool, we became very close to each other.”
Elmasry echoes the idea of the team’s special bond as the key reason why they were able to come together to win. “We are much more like a family than other teams because we spend so much time practicing together. The swim team environment allows everyone to do their best and in a friendly atmosphere,” Elmasry said.