Freshman Emily Clements could hardly wait to join her sister Jordy on the Andover High swim team this fall.
“I wished I were on the team last year. It looked like they were having so much fun,” said Emily. “But, looking back, it was good. She (Jordy) let me know what to expect and what it’d be like. I was just really excited to join the team. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Fun, and extremely successful.
The two sisters dominated the best Massachusetts had to offer this fall on the way to the Division 1 state team title.
“She’s a phenomenal swimmer and I didn’t think she needed a lot of advice,” said Jordy. “I just told her she’d enjoy it and have a lot of fun.”
At the Division 1 state meet, Emily took home titles in the 200 IM (2:07.56) and 100 freestyle (52.57) while swimming on the champion 200 freestyle relay team and 400 freestyle relay team.
Meanwhile, Jordy won the Division 1 title in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.36) and swam on the 200 medley relay team that was second.
Twenty-fifth year Andover coach Marilyn Fitzgerald was just as anxious for Emily to join the team and not just because she knew that the younger sibling had immense potential.
Fitzgerald, whose teams have won state crowns 14 of the last 18 years, it’s largely been a family affair over the years. She’s had 38 sets of siblings contributing mightily to the winning tradition, perhaps her granddaughters Sally and Connie Brown the most notable.
“Having siblings is definitely a big boost,” said Fitzgerald. “Usually the younger ones have been coming to the meets and can’t wait to be on the team. They already know all the traditions and ways of the team.
“And it’s a great thing for the spirit of the team. They’re always cheering for each other and the others on the team. Whenever possible, I put sisters on relays together. It’s a lot of fun and the parents love it.”
And the sisters love it as well.
“I love being on the same relay as Emily,” said Jordy. “We don’t get to do it a lot and it’s fun to cheer for your sister.”
At the Merrimack Valley Conference meet, the sisters swam together on the winning 200 freestyle relay, with Jordy also on the 200 medley relay and Emily joining the winning 400 freestyle relay. Jordy also rolled to the 100 breaststroke title and Emily won the 200 IM.
Then at the North sectional, they helped Andover to a lopsided win.
Emily won the 200 IM and was second in the 100 freestyle, Jordy won the 100 breaststroke and both were on two winning relays.
“Emily is a great sprinter and good at all events and they’re both dynamic relay swimmers,” said Fitzgerald. “Both have the potential to be high school All-Americans before they end their high school career.”
3 more families
The Clements sisters are just one reason why the Warriors are a strong favorite to win another Division 1 state title Sunday at Harvard. Among the other strong contributors are yet more Warriors with family connections.
Talented Mia Galat, for example, should be in two relays and two individual events. She is eight years behind when older sister Gabby was a diver for the Warriors, but she still remembers hearing about the program as a youngster.
“She loved being on the swim team and she’d come home and say what a great team it was and how much fun it was to be on it,” said Galat. “It was her favorite time of the year.
“She told me that it’d be hard work, and it is, but it’d be worth it.”
Another talented Warrior, Sophia Ju, remembers hearing about the team from older sister Candace, who is five years her senior.
“She used to come home and tell us how crazy the spirit was and how it was so much fun to be around,” said Ju.
The spirit should be high again this weekend and the Clements sisters, Galat, Ju and others with family ties like Isabelle Allen (older sister Sophia swam for AHS) will be among those cheering the loudest.
It’s become not only a team tradition, after all, but a family one as well.