Co-written by: Nathan Heinicke-Peart
Joseph Anderson has enjoyed water since he was a kid. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, he was into many aquatic pastimes like boogie boarding, surfing, and, of course, swimming. That passion for the water stuck with Joseph when he and his family moved to Richmond, Virginia during his 8th grade year, but it wasn’t until the 2017-2018 season that he was able to swim competitively as a member of the Matoaca High School VHSL swim team.
The team began under the “Swim Chesterfield” club league, a parent-funded swimming program for students that had over 230 swimmers and quickly grew to 360 swimmers within one year. After support and years of community advocacy from organizations such as SwimRVA, Matoaca and the rest of Swim Chesterfield transitioned from into VHSL sanctioned swim teams for each Chesterfield school. Matoaca Swimming as a whole started off to a great premiere season in VHSL swimming. The team won 5th place at the All County kick-off in November, and completed their dual-meet season with a record of 5 – 1. With fresh talent and returning veterans, Matoaca is sure to be a force to reckon with at the upcoming Regionals meet in February.
Joseph came to Matoaca with limited knowledge of the sport; he knew how to swim freestyle and basic turns, but not much else. The expansion of aquatic access is the first step to ensuring that children like Joseph don’t miss opportunities to continue to develop their skills in water safety and competitive swimming. Thanks to excellent coaching from Head Coach Nicholas Wargo and coaching staff, his progress this season has been tremendous. “He’s become a true student of the sport,” stated Wargo. The compliment shouldn’t be taken lightly; before joining the VHSL, Matoaca club swimming has prepared swimmers to join collegiate programs around the country. With its inclusion into the VHSL, the team “can finally show how strong of a swimming community we have.” That same sense of determination is what pushes Joseph to better himself each practice. When asked about how he overcomes the learning curve of competing, he responded, “If you don’t believe you can, you can’t.”
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