A scrawny, young freshman swimmer used to hide in the shadows of his older, bigger teammates. Being the only freshman on the team then, Williams had to quickly adapt. His ability to adapt and cope with the situation would help him down the road.
Now a senior captain, Williams now owns those shadows, standing 6’1″ and once again is the lone swimmer of his class. In his four years on varsity, Williams had a host of different people and personalities with which to interact.
“Payson has seen a full range of differing personalities and team styles during his four years of swimming,” swimming coach Robert Perkins said in an email. “As a freshman, Payson was around a very senior-heavy and upperclassmen group of young men.
“As the years have gone by, the team has shifted to a much younger, more diverse, and balanced group of swimmers.”
Having such a mix of teammates throughout his swimming career made Williams into the person he now is. As the lone senior now, he is ready to lead as the team’s captain.
“Being the only senior [on the team] is good,” Williams said. “I like being the only one on top.”
In the first meet of the 2012-2013 season, Williams and the team crushed their opponents, winning the Richmond Invitational by a convincing 300 points. Williams, along with other notable finishes, aided in the decisive victory.
“I learned a lot from seniors and upperclassmen ahead of me. They taught me little life lessons, and it was like being part of a family. We all look out for each other, so I am carrying those attributes to the team this year.”
-Payson Williams, Senior
The victory proved Williams’ worthiness of being team captain to himself, teammates and coach.
“I want my swimmers to have a good experience on the team, but I also want them to work hard at the sport so we can win,” Williams said.
Junior swimmer Blair Thoman notices Williams’ dedication and leadership on a daily basis. With the season just getting under way, Williams wants to establish that he is a competent leader.
“I personally lead by example and verbally. I know I’m not the fastest swimmer, but winning my events also gives me some respect that I can use to lead the other swimmers,” Williams said. “The swim team has a long and unique cheer, and we always cheer for one another.
“I’ve made sure to talk to the swimmers about keeping up with the sport, and I show an interest in their progress.”
Perkins could not agree more with Williams’ assessment of himself.
“Payson’s an excellent leader, both in spirit and team coordination,” Perkins said. “He definitely leads by example, working hard at practice and encouraging the right attitudes amongst the swimmers.”
One of Williams’ teammates, freshman Parker Guillemette, sees similarities between himself and the squad’s eldest member.
“Payson is an extremely hard worker. He just gets us going and makes us all want to work harder even when we don’t want to ourselves,” Guillemette said. “When Payson was a freshman, he had to work very hard to make varsity when he was a freshman, just like myself.”
With the season just starting, Williams knows he needs to step up as a leader and a swimmer.
“We have a young team, with about ten freshmen,” Williams said. “They have all been doing well. Overall, the team has done very well.”
Williams believes the varsity squad is posed to make a state run. Perkins agrees.
“The team is well positioned for upcoming and future growth,” Perkins said. “A large part of this can be attributed to Payson’s leadership.”