Arturo Rodrigues and Marie-Eve Hebert came to the Hun School swim team this season with vastly different backgrounds in the sport.
Hebert arrived at Hun this fall from Quebec with 10 years experience as a swimmer, most of which has been spent swimming at a high level. Rodrigues arrived at Hun this fall from Belgium with no experience in competitive swimming.
It didn’t take long for either swimmer to establish themselves as a key performer for the Raiders this winter.
Hebert won two events in Hun’s season-opening victory at the George School and has won two individual events in every meet since to help the Raiders to a 4-0 start.
Rodrigues had never been in a competitive race before the season-opening meet at George, but went 23.12 in the 50 free and 1:01.07 in the 100 butterfly. He’s steadily improved and has his time down to 56.54 in the fly.
The backgrounds are different but the results have been the same, successful.
“I’m not a team sport athlete, so my mom asked me would you want to do diving or swimming because she knew I liked the water,” Hebert said of how she got her start in the pool. “So I decided let’s go for swimming. I like to race and I like to win. I am competitive. I tried swimming. I started at 8 years old and I was very good at it so everyone said you should go competitive.”
Hebert came to Hun as one of the top ranked swimmers in Canada. She earned a silver medal in the 200-meter freestyle at the Canadian Junior Swimming Championships last summer and is ranked nationally in Canada in a number of events.
Rodrigues came to Hun with no such pedigree but has also made a huge impact for the Raiders.
“I am living in Belgium,” said Rodrigues, who is a post-graduate. “My mom is from Belgium and my dad is from Brazil. When I was living in Belgium, I lived close to the coast so my mom said to me and my brothers since we’re living at the coast I want you guys to be able to swim. So very young I started swimming in the pool and then I began doing water polo because all of the guys who were practicing next to me liked doing water polo.
“When I came to Hun they had a swimming team so I decided to swim with the team and I think it is amazing.”
The Hun girls stayed undefeated with a 95-73 decision over Gill-St. Bernard’s on Wednesday. Hebert won the 100 butterfly and 500 freestyle, while Grace Davis won the 50 free and 100 free. Becca Della Rocca won the 200 free, Abbie Danko won the 200 IM and Izzy Peel won the 100 breaststroke.
“I love it,” Hebert, a junior, said of swimming for the Hun team. “There are some swimmers here that are kind of amazed because I have been swimming a long time and they are asking me stuff. I like to try to help them. I feel like the energy and the vibe here is so great. Everyone is cheering and we’re all together.”
Rodrigues is one of the swimmers who has benefitted from having Hebert as part of the Hun program He’s tried to tap her knowledge of the sport as he continues to learn each and every time he gets in the pool.
“She is an example for other swimmers,” he said. “They see how fast she is going and that is inspiration. I try to copy her. For example, with the fly she has great techniques so I try to copy her.”
Rodrigues has played competitive water polo but is new to competitive swimming. He’s enjoyed learning to be a part of a team in an individual sport. He started well with the meet at George School and has gotten better and better each year.
“Maybe when I was really little I would do trials and stuff, but that was my first real race,” Rodrigues said. “One of the first swimming practices I had to focus on my techniques with my hands and the turns. The other swimmers help me and we have great coaches. They help me every practice.
“The entire school is behind you. At home, and I would think also in Quebec (for Hebert), it is only club teams. School ends and what you do afterwards the other students don’t care. Here, when the other students see us they say good luck in the meets and that is a nice thing.”
As someone who has been swimming since she was 8 years old, Hebert has been amazed with the progress Rodrigues has made in a short time with the Hun program.
“He learns very fast,” said Hebert, whose older brother Guillaume played for the Hun ice hockey team. “I am amazed. What is great about Arturo is he doesn’t think about who is going to beat me. He just goes for it as fast as he can. That is a very good quality for a swimmer.”
The Hun boys improved to 5-1 with a 93-69 triumph over Gill-St. Bernard’s on Wednesday. Rodrigues won the 100 free, while Gabe Huang (200 free and 100 breast), Andrew Petty (200 IM and 500 free), and Josh Nguyen (50 free and 100 back) were all double-winners. Rodrigues is happy that he is part of the team’s success.
“Every time I go for a race I like to say the things over in my head that I am going to do so I am focused,” he said. “I am really grateful. I didn’t know how it was going to be. I wasn’t really stressed for the competition. I was stressed for how would I do for myself because I had never been in a meet. Once I saw the swimming I gained more confidence every meet.”
It’s been a successful season so far for the Raiders, who will compete in the Mercer County meet, Mid-Atlantic Prep League meet and state Prep A meet over the next few weeks.
“We also qualified for some events at Easterns and that will be fun,” Hebert said.
For both Hebert and Rodrigues, their swim season with the Raiders has been everything they could have hoped for and they’re looking to have it end on a positive note.