EASTHAM – Erin McFarland glides calmly through the water. There is no panic. There is no wasted movement. There is only desire to do what she loves. It is meditative and therapeutic.
“I’ve been swimming since kindergarten,” says McFarland, a Nauset High School student who lives in Orleans. “It’s something I’m passionate about and it keeps me being me. It’s been such a big part of my life for ages.
“It was great to be able to travel and be part of the team,” she adds. “We’ve been able to get back into a normal groove post Covid, have practices and more meetings. Being able to travel was the greatest experience. It’s mostly swimming but a lot of it is the team part.”
The 16-year-old made a long journey to return to the pool at Willy’s Gym in North Eastham after returning to Cape Cod from Germany, where she lived from 2016 to 2021 before beginning her freshman year at Nauset.
Abroad, McFarland competed against swimmers from across Europe. She swam in the Olympic Pool at the London Aquatics Center in 2012 and has traveled to the Netherlands for events on several occasions.
“It’s just new,” she says when asked how high school athletics is different from her previous experiences. “There’s a lot of hardcore swimming here, getting great times and really pushing me now to get into collegiate swimming. I may not be the fastest person out there, but sport has been such a big part of my life that I hope I can continue to break away from swimming.”
McFarland has had plenty of success for the undefeated Nauset girls team this season, including victories at the Cape and Islands Relays and the Cape Cod Classic. She recently had a win in the 400-yard freestyle relay at the Classic and has already won two heats in the 200-yard freestyle and one heat in the 500-yard freestyle in head-to-head challenges.
“The 500 is my personal favorite – I swim it every single competition,” says McFarland. “I love the aspect of being in the water and being calm all the time and not having to fret about how fast I’m going.”
She’s proud that despite the cutthroat nature of the sport, the Warriors have created a welcoming culture where anyone can join the team without judgment – whether they’re among the fastest swimmers or not. Everyone has the chance to compete and become part of the team.
Regardless of the team’s success over the next two years, McFarland hopes to make a positive long-term impact on the program.
“I hope to be a good example for younger swimmers so they can look back in my shoes and remember the fun times they had,” she says. “Even though it’s a sport, it’s all about the team and how you treat others.”