For Swim Captain Tessa Trieu, It’s All about Teamwork


Kristy So

Junior Tessa Trieu prepares for a flipturn during the 200 Butterfly Relay at the March 3 Capo Valley swim meet, where schools from all over Orange County competed.

Junior varsity swimmer and junior Tessa Trieu’s voice bubbles with excitement as she describes her biggest victory in the pool. The memory comes to life as she recounts how she led the girls’ swim team to victory in a freestyle relay, defeating Irvine High during the flipturn. Trieu has been perfecting the sport since the age of five when she started competing on a seasonal club team. 

“I think the thing about clubs that doesn’t make it as fun is that you don’t really get to feel the team environment as much,” Trieu said. “But in high school swim, like Portola swim, I feel you feel the team bond a lot more. It’s so much more fun.”

After swimming on Portola High’s team her freshman and sophomore year, Trieu decided to take the leap and apply for team captain, which involved submitting a video of herself giving a brief speech about what she would bring to the table.

“Tessa’s a natural leader,” swim and dive coach Kellie Lawicki said. “She’s actually the first non-varsity swimmer to be picked as captain, but I think that’s a testament to how much of a leader and how much of an impact she actually has on this team. Everyone looks up to her, as a friend, as a swimmer.”

Trieu said she works behind the scenes as team captain to plan bonding activities, like the tailgate during the homecoming football game, and cultivate a comfortable team environment. In addition, she helped others applying for leadership roles with their speeches, even though they were competing against her, according to Lawicki,

“Tessa could have said, ‘I’m not helping anybody because I wanna be captain too, so why would I make your video better,’ but she was staying after practice for a couple of days to help other girls who wanted to be captain to help make their videos good,” Lawicki said. “Again, that’s just a testament to how good of a leader she is.”