Byrds of a Different Feather
The pairing of a diver and a swimmer as co-captains could have proved divisive for the 1985-'86 Harvard women's swimming team.
But in the case of aquawomen Shannon Byrd and Annie Wilson, the opposite proved true.
Despite juggling different training regimens, the two four-year letterwinners managed to pull the swimming and diving squads together.
The result? A 7-0 Ivy League mark and the Crimson's first-ever Ancient Eight title.
"Annie is a great team leader and motivator," Coach Maura Costin says. "Shannon is quiet, but high-spirited. Team chemistry was the key, and they complemented each other."
Byrd spent much of her four-year career battling injuries, but at the end of this season the Miami, Fla., native qualified for the NCAA diving team. She currently holds the Harvard record for the three-meter dive and--as a sophomore--was named outstanding diver of the Eastern Championships.
Teammate Wilson gives Byrd large credit for the team's success: "Not only is she an outstanding diver," Wilson says, "but she creates a unified atmosphere with her winning attitude."
While the Belmont-born Wilson had her name squeezed out of the Harvard record book this year by teammates, her leadership proved irreplaceable. "We benefited from having two captains," Byrd says. "It helped me learn about swimming, and we could appreciate each other. She's very energetic and a great team leader."
Coming off a second place season, Byrd and Wilson set their sights early on an Ivy Championship--and often led team meetings in which each player would relate goals for an upcoming meet.
After stunning defending champ Brown, Harvard became the team to beat--and it was the captains' job to keep up team morale and get divers and swimmers cheering for each other.
"The spirit will lead on into next year," Costin says. "Next year's team will know how to lead a team, from seeing this year's leaders. They will be missed."