The state team celebrating after placing seventh overall. Providence girls Carly Bixby ’24, Ali Herlofsky ’24, and Anna Heaney ’22 participated on this team.

“We have a swim team?!” is a common exclamation when many in the Providence community hear that a handful of Providence girls participate in a cooperative team with The Blake School. Not only do these PA girls participate on the team, but they are vital members for the success achieved. On November 19th and 20th, the girls swam in the MSHSL A State Championship Meet, where they placed seventh, tying with the long-time rivals the Breck Mustangs. 

Olivia Ryan ’25, bottom, swimming breaststroke in the 200 Medley relay at the Section Meet.

Leading up to the state meet, the JV team, which includes Kate Borchardt ‘26 and Rachel Bartles ‘25, swam in the JV Championship Meet over Halloween weekend. Both girls achieved multiple best times this season. The Varsity team, which includes Providence girls Olivia Ryan ‘25, Ali Herlofsky ‘24, Carly Bixby ‘24, Pia Leiseth ‘23, and Anna Heaney ‘22, competed in the Section 2A Championship Meet one week prior to the state meet.  They placed third overall, advancing all three relays and four individuals, including Bixby and Heaney, to the state meet. 

Head coach Luke Johnson commented, “They are instrumental to our success. I don’t know what we would do without the Providence girls.” 

Even though the girls do not attend Blake with the others, it does not hinder relationships. “Some of them [PA swimmers] are my best friends; we get along so well and can do anything together,” Molly Seidel ‘24 explained. This was proven at the state meet, where Blake teammates came to support both the Blake and Providence swimmers. 

At state, the Providence girls showed how fundamental they are to the team. The 200 medley relay, which included Heaney, placed seventh, the 200 freestyle relay, including Bixby placed third, and the 400 freestyle relay, including both Bixby and Heaney, placed fourth and broke a school record.

Carly Bixby ’24 elated yet exhausted after breaking the 200 freestyle school record and swimming an All-American Consideration time.

Two Providence girls also showed their strength in individual events. Heaney placed eighteenth overall in the 500 freestyle. Bixby showed phenomenal success in her individual events. She placed first in 200 freestyle, swimming an All-American Consideration time, personal best, and school record. In the 100 freestyle, she placed second, also swimming an All-American Consideration time and personal best while shattering her previous school record. 

By the end of the meet, the girls had both shed tears and celebrated with hugs. “I could tell that it was a bittersweet moment. This team has accomplished so much, but it was the last time the seniors would be swimming with them,” Johnson observed.

Four seniors, including Heaney are graduating, but this does not mean the team will be any less successful. Most of the girls participating are underclassmen, so they are only getting faster as they push the limits in their training. Bixby exclaimed,  “Next year I’m planning on making new records and hope that more people qualify for state. I definitely think everyone is capable and it is going to happen next year!”