Diving Into Tradition


Photo by Anna Sandage

From breadsticks to bald heads, each year the BVN Boys Swim Team partakes in a variety of traditions. At North, the team practices these traditions in order to build team camaraderie and grow team spirit. This team bonding has played a large role for the boys for many years and will continue to fuel them during the 2022-2023 season.

The vast majority of the team’s traditions take place during an athlete’s first season on the team. According to junior Klein McGraw, the underclassmen generally experience two traditions including buzz cuts and eating with chopsticks at team dinners. 

Additionally, at the beginning of the season, the freshman boys on varsity have the option to get a buzz cut to help create team unity. According to sophomore Wilson Riekhof, the haircut isn’t as bad as it seems and actually proved useful for him during his freshman season.

“”[The haircut] was fine,” Riekhof said. “My hair was dead from the pool so I think it was good to restart.”

In general, the traditions focus more on the freshman and new athletes on the team. This means as the athletes become upperclassmen the rituals “die down.” According to junior Alec Lopez, he doesn’t have to participate in nearly as many traditions compared to previous years.

“There just aren’t as many for this year, especially as upperclassmen,” Lopez said. “Some [juniors and seniors] are getting mullets for State, but that’s really it.”

One of the most notorious roles of a freshman is to eat solely with chopsticks. According to sophomore Trey Wichman, last year he was only permitted to eat his meals using a pair of chopsticks.

“All of the freshmen have to use chopsticks, and it is kind of unspoken…” McGraw said. “They can’t use anything else [besides chopsticks] at school or when we are at a team dinner.”

One of the final traditions is the role of the “Weatherman.” According to Lopez, the annual breadstick eating competition and this role are one of the most enjoyable team rituals.

“We do a breadstick challenge… at Fazoli’s every year,” Lopez said. “Whoever eats the most breadsticks wins, and whoever eats the least has to get up before everyone else, every day until the end of the swim season and tell everyone the weather in the GroupMe.”

However, not all swim traditions are fun and playful. According to McGraw, some of the consistency with the boys swim team comes from their Head Coach Rob.

“Our coach, Rob, insists on water bottles at practice,” McGraw said. “If you ever don’t bring a bottle to practice you immediately have to swim 100 Fly, and that is never fun.”

Despite the fact that many swimmers do choose to participate in these various activities, McGraw assures they are always optional and never harmful. 

“I think right now we’re at a good point where our traditions are pretty fun,” McGraw said. “If the person or swimmer really doesn’t want to do it they don’t have to, no one is forcing them to do [the traditions]. 

The general consensus around the team is that these traditions aren’t just good for team fun and goofing around. They play a deeper role in the connections formed between the athletes of all grades.

The swim teams’ traditions play a large role in the team comradery at BVN. The traditions make it easier for the different aged athletes to get to know each other and make everyone feel welcome, according to Wichman.

“[The traditions] play a part in making everyone feel like they are a part of something,” Wichman said. “[They] help with overall team bonding and fun.”