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Fauquier swimmers hope ‘a team that eats spaghetti together, wins together’

Friday, Dec. 13 | By Abby Seitz
Senior Amanda Bengston has been waiting to become a captain for Fauquier, a role she's filling for the first time this season. --Photo by Adam Goings
As a freshman on Fauquier’s swim team, Amanda Bengston knew she wanted to be a senior captain.

Four years later, Bengston is leading the squad with senior Sam Henson.

“I'm very passionate about swimming and enjoy being a leader and role model,” Bengston said. “I looked up to my captains and I wanted to carry on their traditions. It helps the team become more bonded.”

Fauquier head coach Bob Blashill said the captains this season were selected carefully.

“They have trained since last year to get ready,” Blashill said. “I always look for people with the best work ethic to lead the team. Work ethic is a choice that leads to good results.”

Bengston, Henson and junior Jake Boulter are the only veterans who competed in the postseason last season.

“The five seniors that graduated last year were really good,” Henson said. “Recruiting new guys has been a challenge. However, we do have lots of new swimmers and we are trying to get back on that same level we were at last year.”

Blashill said the challenge of performing well at the district and regional meets will push the Falcons throughout the season.

“I'd like to get a few more athletes to qualify for the regional and state championships, and I think the girls team can have a winning dual meet record this year,” he said. “We are much improved from last year. We will challenge teams that we couldn’t last year.”

The girls finished fourth last season in the Evergreen District meet, while the boys finished third. Both teams trailed Kettle Run and Brentsville.

Then the Falcons swam eight events at the Region II meet, but only Boulter advanced to the Class AA state meet.

Boulter said Fauquier's roster size has been its biggest challenge.

“If we’re going against Kettle Run and our swimmer places first, but their team takes every other place, it doesn’t do much for our team,” Boulter said. “It’s harder to do well against a large team; it can be hard to score enough points to win."

With the VHSL realignment, Culpeper and Eastern View are new additions to the Evergreen.

“I'm excited because it means more meets and more chances to get times and improve times,” Bengston said. “Our team has a lot of swimmers that are diverse in the water. They are good at various strokes, which is never a bad thing.”

Among Fauquier’s returning swimmers are Sara Dombrowski, Christina Cox, Madeline St. Ledger, Katy Joyce, Kate Larkin, Hailey Foote, Hailey Minter, Laura Hailey, Brittany Adams, Connor Sienkiewicz, and Alison Cree.

“We have many more swimmers than last year that have embraced the year-round training model and have been working hard to improve,” Blashill said.

Henson attributes his success to joining the Occuquan Swim Club.

“Year-round swimming helps because that is where you truly improve your skill,” he said. “Three months a year just isn’t enough to really get to the level of regionals and states.”

Bengston said Fauquier's chemistry instantly sets them apart from other schools.

“The team has a lot of new swimmers and every year we have to work at getting to know each other,” Bengston said. “Every year, we are tight knit and have a lot of team spirit. We have a reputation for cheering on all of our teammates at meets, win or lose.”

It helps that Fauquier's captains carry on several traditions throughout the season.

“At the meets we congregate in one of the rooms at the WARF to get all pumped up, doing cheers, and listening to music,” Bengston said. “It is also a tradition to have plenty of snacks at the meet, and we always do a spaghetti dinner at someone's house at one point during the season.

"Supporting each other is a big part of our success," he said. "A team that eats spaghetti together, wins together.”

While the spaghetti dinner isn’t scheduled until later in the season, the Falcons have steadily prepared in the water for their first meet against district-rival Liberty on Friday at the WARF.

“I would say Liberty is our strongest rival because Liberty is basically on our same level in terms of size,” Henson said. “Polishing up on our strokes has been our main focus. Districts is a couple months away, so we are just focusing on the individual meets right now.”

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