Written by Charles Marvel, University of Delaware Student

Coming into the 2014-15 season, Tim Ware and Lauren Ahrens were well aware of the pressure. Only this time, they were perfectly prepared for it.

From the outside looking in, no one would ever know how much the two have in common. They are both seniors, they are both members of the swimming team, they are both captains, and they were both 2011 graduates of Central Bucks South High School in Warrington, Pa. Most importantly, they both decided to attend the University of Delaware, where they would cement their friendship and their place in the record books.

During the Colonial Athletic Association Championship at the Richmond Aquatic Center at the end of February, the Ware-led men’s team finished fifth overall, while the Ahrens-led women’s squad finished fourth overall.

“I think this was arguably our most successful season of the four years I have been a part of this team,” said Ware. “We really had a focus on the end of the year and performing at the highest level possible at our conference meet, and I think we did just that. When conferences came around, we were able to put more people in finals and on the podium than we have in years, which made everything worth it.”

Ahrens shared a similar sentiment and is proud of not just her performance, but what the team as a whole accomplished.

“Overall this season went very well,” said the women’s captain. “The girl’s team finished the season with a winning duel meet record, and we added many personal bests and new school records.”

Just like with any sport, a team does not triumph without first overcoming obstacles. Being a senior and a captain provides plenty of challenges, and  Ware and Ahrens did not back down from any this year.

“Having to put others on the team before yourself is challenging,” said Ahrens. “Being an individual sport, swimming can make you self-absorbed at times.”

That mentality changed quickly for Ahrens, as she found out being a captain meant more than just competing individually. By helping teammates learn from her past mistakes, the results were twofold. Not only did it help the team, but it also left her with a rewarding feeling.

Of the 29 members men’s swimming and diving team, Ware was one of just three seniors.

“Our team was largely made up of freshmen and sophomores who stepped up immediately and became big point scorers even as newcomers to college swimming,” said Ware (above). “The guys practiced harder than they ever have and our team was able to reach higher training levels. We were more vocal during practice; we pushed each other, held each other accountable, and supported one another through the whole season.”

Being a senior brought on added pressure for Ware, as he wanted to go out on the highest note possible.

“Because I felt like this was my last shot to do everything, I was constantly second-guessing myself about the best way to do it, which was challenging at times,” said Ware.

People watch a captain’s every move and expectations can be through the roof. Ware dealt with this circumstance in the way he felt was most natural, by leaning on his teammates. As with any situation, Ware agreed that the greater challenge gave him a greater reward.

“When you have a group of guys who step up and support each other as much as ours do, leading them is pretty easy and fun,” said Ware. “I know I felt closer to everyone on my team and felt like I played a bigger part in our team’s growth and success than I ever have before, which is an awesome feeling.”

As Ware and Ahrens proved meet after meet, the duo thrived under pressure. When all eyes are on them, they shine. The two swimmers credit that valuable trait to the same source – Central Bucks South High School.

“The workload between academics and athletics at Central Bucks South definitely prepared me for Delaware,” said Ahrens (below). “In order to be successful, I had to learn time management skills early on, which has helped me immensely in college.”

Teachers and coaches at Central Bucks South played a pivotal role in propelling Ware to greatness, but that was only half of the battle. There was one person who had been by his side through it all – Ahrens.

“It was great having Lauren at UD with me,” said Ware. “Especially in the beginning, having someone you've trained with and gone to school with for years makes the transition that much easier. She's been a great teammate and friend to me for the past eight years now and I couldn't imagine my UD experience without her.”

As their swimming careers come to a close at the University of Delaware, Ware and Ahrens are left with incredible memories and lessons they will never forget. As coaches have constantly told them, being a member of a team will be important in their professional and personal lives beyond graduation. Ware considers many of his teammates close friends, and will have a tough time not competing and succeeding with them next year.

“Now that I've finished swimming for UD, I can say that I finally agree with them,” said Ware. “I wouldn't have wanted to go through any other program. The guys that come through UD swimming are great people. They're kind, motivated, supportive, and fun to be around.”

One person who will be watching the team compete next year is University of Delaware’s head coach John Hayman, who might be more thrilled than anyone that Ware and Ahrens chose the Blue Hens program.

“Tim and Lauren have always been steadfast members of the team and great athletes,” said Hayman. “Both have been swimming a long time and logged in thousands of miles in the pool. They understand what it takes to get the job done in the pool and in the classroom. Both have been excellent leaders to the team this year and certainly will missed next year, but I am sure that they passed on the positive values to the team for years to come.”