During Challenge Weekend, also known as Hell Weekend, on Feb. 25-26, the Junior Varsity and Varsity swim teams continued the season-opening tradition of conditioning, and staying at school overnight, organized and led by 2010 team captains Bo ’11 and Anjoum Agrama ’12.
“Although challenge weekend was challenging (hence the name), I really enjoyed it because I got to bond with my teammates,” Christina ’14 said in an e-mail.
On Friday the girls had an hour and a half of regular swim practice before splitting into “crews” and competing in rigorous mental and physical challenges with the goal of improving as athletes and becoming a more tightly-knit team. After learning each person’s favorite food and future plans, the girls divided up and ran around the school to warm up in the cold weather.
One of the most memorable moments of the night, according to many swimmers, was the cardio aerobics warm-up, which involved strutting and working out to Christina Aguilera’s “Lady Marmalade.”
At 8 p.m., although it was raining and rumored to be the coldest day since 2007, the swim team changed back into their suits. The girls raced against the clock in challenges such as carrying heavy bricks and water polo balls across the pool, picking up flippers from the bottom, and swimming across the pool holding their breath the entire time, also called “terminators.”
Bo and Anjoum stressed teamwork to help increase bonding. Huddling for warmth and shouting words of encouragement, the girls managed to complete all tasks together in a small amount of time.
Some girls said they felt strained exerting so much effort on a Friday night.
“Logic games are usually fun and easy, but 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. is not exactly the best time for my brain to be functioning, especially since I was physically exhausted,” Eliza ’13 said.
After a brief, five-hour snooze in the Collins Room, the girls woke up at 6:30 a.m. and went for a run around the neighborhood, causing a Hancock Park resident to ask them to keep it down. Next, the team went to the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica to do a suprise obstacle course on the beach.
Finally, the girls returned to school for the traditional closing activity of Challenge Weekend, called “love fest,” in which they sat around with treats and discussed each swimmer’s strengths.
According to Sophie ’14, “The most memorable part of Hell Weekend was love fest.” The girls praised ’11’s wonderful way of savoring a chocolate chip muffin for five days and Gracie ’13’s determination despite being sick all weekend.
Students said they were grateful for the parents of swimmers who brought food, which kept the girls full and content, and for Mathematics instructor Amanda Kissinger, Coach Jennifer Wayland and Coach Peter Lambert, who gave up their weekends to chaperone.
“The hard 24 hours really brought us together as we suffer through the drills and the midnight swims and lack of sleep, but the fact that we all get through it together makes it all better,” Genesis ’11 said.