For the past four years, when the West Genesee girls 400 freestyle relay team dives in the pool, the result has been the same...a victory.
Becca Kanoza, Kaitlin Dunning, Brianna Smith and Olivia Castro say their closest race was their most recent one at J-D, where they set a pool record in holding off a hard-charging J-D with a time of 3:36.20. The win also clinched the meet for West Genesee, just adding to the legend.
There's an obvious bond that's allowed these four girls to be so successful the past few years, which is why they often use the word family when describing their relationship.
"We're together pretty much all the time," Smith, the lone senior of the four, says. "Which I think really helps to make us such a close-knit group."
When they say they're always together they mean it, as their common mindset of hard work puts them in the pool more often than not on a daily basis. In addition to practice every day after school, they jump in the water early in the morning before school starts three days a week, something no other team or sport at West Genesee does. They get together to swim on Saturday mornings as well.
"A big motivation is each other," Castro, a junior, says. "We always cheer each other on. We're always at the end of each other's lane during practice and just rooting for each other to succeed."
They say another motivation is watching the best in the world swim every four years in the Summer Olympics, as they say those athletes set an example of hard work they feel they should follow.
Each has a favorite they like to model themselves after:
Smith- "I personally look up to Missy Franklin because it's really cool that she's so young and so successful. She's such a genuine person that I think is really motivational to all of us swimmers who want to be just as successful."
Kanoza- "Ryan Lochte because he's always had a rivalry between him and Michael Phelps and he's tied with him now, so he's my motivation."
Castro- "My inspiration for female Olympians is Natalie Coughlin, she's been going for so long, she's decorated all across the board and she's just awesome."
Dunning- "My inspiration is Missy Franklin because she's a high schooler just like us so we can relate to her. She didn't immediately go pro, she chose to stick with what she believes in and kept working hard in school, and it was really great to see that."
As for the next step, all four hope to finish the season with their unblemished record intact and advance on to sectional and state playoffs (they've won two section titles).
Their senior in Smith says she has quite a few choices when it comes to colleges and universities and that it's tough to narrow down. She hopes to study education or Occupational Therapy.
Castro, their lone junior, says she's looking to go to college, and that she wants to possibly be a physician??s assistant, but keep swimming as well.
Dunning and Kanoza, both sophomores, have a couple more years to try and keep the undefeated record intact. Dunning says she wants to look at academics first, but still keep swimming as a priority. Kanoza hopes to be a veterinarian after she graduates.