By David Willis
---- — For Vincent Camin, it was the dream of following in his brother’s footsteps.
For Santi Alegria, it was the moment he realized as a child that he was faster than his friends in the pool.
For Aaron Wu, it was his parents finding a chance for him to exercise more and burn off some energy.
The trio may have found their way to competitive swimming for different reasons, but the result has been the same.
All three have emerged as not just top swimmers for Andover High, but also leaders and tri-captains for the Golden Warriors, who are currently 4-0 in their quest for a third straight unbeaten regular season and Merrimack Valley Conference crown.
“The biggest goal we have is to go undefeated and win the MVC title,” Alegria said. “That is what we are focused on, above any individual goal. We feel like we have a really good team and have the chance to do it.”
The little brother
Camin, for one, had always dreamed of swimming for Andover High, following his brother, Stan, who was a standout for the Golden Warriors before a back injury derailed his career.
“I learned everything from Stan,” Vincent Camin said. “He first got me into swimming about seven years ago. At first, it was just having fun, but watching him when he got to high school, I saw the times that the high school kids were getting. I saw how competitive it was and knew I wanted to be successful and get those times.”
When he did arrive at Andover High, he quickly found success as a freshman, swimming on the varsity relays and making state cuts. But it was initially intimidating, he said.
“I was pretty apprehensive at first,” Camin said. “Freshman year, joining the team, everything was so new and the kids were really good. But it was fun, and after a while, I started to get confident.”
Now a senior, Camin has set lofty goals for the rest of this season.
“Right now, my top individual goal is to win the state championship in the 100 breaststroke,” said Camin, also a standout in the relays. “Last year, I came in fourth. I saw Eric Zhao win the 100 freestyle and he couldn’t have been happier. I don’t know what it will feel like, and I know it will be very difficult. But it would be amazing.”
The quick study
Growing up, Wu gave just about every sport a shot in his search for the perfect match.
“When I was younger, I tried baseball and basketball and golf and a few others,“ Wu said. “But my parents encouraged me to try swimming in the sixth grade, and once I did, I stopped every other sport. I found a sport that I truly liked. It went from swim lessons to club team to competitive swimming.”
Wu made his debut for Andover High as a freshman in the Golden Warriors’ meet against Haverhill, and the breakthrough followed.
“When the coaches put me into my first varsity meet, it gave me confidence that I could compete,” he said. “They put me into the 500 freestyle and I made the state (championship) cut. Then I knew I was part of the team and I could compete at the highest level after that.”
Now in his fourth year as a stalwart on the varsity team, Wu knows what events are the best fit for his ability.
“Freestyle and butterfly are the strokes I can swim the best,” said Wu, also a key relay swimmer. “Freestyle is my strongest. I have very flexible shoulders and I can rotate my arms as fast as possible. That’s what makes them the perfect fit for me.
“I love to swim. When I’m not at school or at home doing homework, I am probably at the pool working out.”
The reluctant standout
Alegria’s love of swimming was born during recreational time at the pool as a kid. But it took some pushing from his parents to compete.
“My parents used to tell me I was faster than all of my friends when we were swimming,” he said. “They thought I should try out for the swim team. I didn’t really want to at first, but I did for them. I didn’t even think I would make the club team as a kid, but then I got the call that I had made it and I was excited.”
That initial hesitance quickly turned into a passion as Alegria advanced to high school. As a freshman, he began to swim for the Andover varsity team, but he admitted his greatest individual achievement occurred just a few weeks ago.
“I just recently made state times in the 50 freestyle and 100 breaststroke,” said Alegria, who is also a member of multiple relays. “That was my first time making the state cut, so that was pretty important for me. It was really exciting and a real breakthrough.”
When he was elected a captain along with his two friends, Alegria said he was unsure if it would be a perfect fit.
“I am not the most vocal person,” he said. “In the best, I was just a member of the team and was quiet. But this year I had to step up and lead and lead the dry land workouts. It has been very different, but it has also been really fun and my other captains have done a great job.”
With all three captains looking to attend colleges with Division 1 swim teams, the trio of swimmers believe this could be their final season of true competition. So they want to finish in style.
“I think we have a very good chance at winning MVCs,” Wu said. “It won’t be easy, that’s for sure. But this team has had a lot of kids really step up, and I think we could have a great year.”