Wethersfield's Colin Pace looks back at his time after winning the 500 Freestyle against Rocky Hill
Wethersfield and Rocky Hill’s swimming and diving teams had their annual dual meet last Tuesday night, which ended with the Eagles defeating the Terriers at WHS.
The Eagles, who have won the last two conference championships, are in a bit of a transition year with limited experience back in the pool, but that hasn’t stopped the team from pursuing a third straight CCC East title.
“Going from a senior class of nine to really only two retuning seniors was tough,” said Wethersfield’s longtime head coach Lee Schwartzman, “Last year’s senior class was so good and so deep, probably one of the better classes that we ever had. Four were all-state, so we lost a lot of firepower.”
Schwartzman’s two returning seniors are captains Ryan Berasi and Sam Garcia.
Garcia won the 200 Freestyle and was part of two relay teams (200-FS and 400-FS) that took first in Tuesday’s meet.
“It’s always great when you have different personalities,” Schwartzman said of his captains, “Sam is really kind of loose, likes to joke around, and Ryan is more on the serious side. It’s a good mix.”
Senior Mike Dunn, best known for his record-breaking running at WHS, is back in the pool after taking two years off as a competitive swimmer and Daniel Jimenez has joined the team for the first time as a senior.
What made last year’s senior class so successful was most were year-round swimmers, which is not the case with the team this season.
Schwartzman said he is doing more teaching than ever before, “Tanner [Bradbury] is the only one on the team that swims year-round. The season is so short, and it takes until now to be ready. Swimming unfortunately is one of those sports, if you want to be good you have to swim.”
Bradbury, a sophomore, showcased his talents against Rocky Hill, winning the 50 Freestyle and 100 Butterfly.
Schwartzman also praised sophomore distance swimmers Colin Pace and Jack Lynch, who finished first and second in the 500 Freestyle.
“Jack and Colin have taken a big step forward. Jack scored some really important points against E.O. Smith in the 200 free. It’s fun to see those two be competitive. They’re best friends and they’re both in my lane 3-4 group, which is the group that is working the hardest all the time.”
Schwartzman also likes the development of junior Declan Hallinan, sophomore Jack Kulpa, and his three freshman---Noah Breard, Kevin Peling, and Owen Powers, who have been thrust into the spotlight out of necessity this season.
Veteran diver Brian Puglielli gives the team an extra advantage. The junior finished sixth overall in the Class M finals a year ago and is even better this season, tallying an overall score of 230.50 against the Terriers.
Despite the new faces in the pool, Schwartzman still expects the young team to compete at a high level, “I don’t believe in rebuilding year and I except us to be good every year, but it is always nice when you know you’re not going to lose a ton of kids after the season. I always like to plan for three years out.”
On the other side of the pool, Rocky Hill was competitive against Wethersfield and have shown a lot of promise this season.
“I think they swam very well. I had some best times, I had some times that were very close to best times,” Rocky Hill head coach Lisa Cooney said of Tuesday’s performances, “We’ve been battling the flu since before Christmas so a lot of them are just on the mend.”
Like Schwartzman, Cooney doesn’t have a lot of year-round swimmer this season but she does have a deep senior class, led by the Scacca Brothers.
“This group has come together, I think they are doing great. They’re less experienced than a lot of other teams I’ve had as far as swimming outside of the high school swim season, but they are really out-swimming themselves right now. Most of the experienced swimmers have bettered what they were at the end of last season and for kids that don’t swim outside of their three months with me, they are really doing quite well.”
Brandon Scacca competed at states a year ago and has improved his times this season, including winning the 200 Individual Medley and 200 Breaststroke at Wethersfield.
“I look season to season and when I look at where he was at this time last season, he’s a couple seconds ahead of where he was. He’s hitting the times he did at champs already this season and we’re still a month away from that, so he’s a month ahead of where he was last season. “
Jay Scacca missed his junior season with a shoulder injury but has returned this season to be the team’s top 100 Butterflyer.
Cooney also noted that seniors Adam Franzen and Adam Dionne, juniors Nick Castanho and Anthony DiBlasi, and sophomore Luke Collura have all made “huge improvements” from this time last year. “They’ve stepped up their games and are doing times much better than last year.”
Jesse Gasuk, the team’s only freshman, provides the Terriers a bight future and has already qualified for states in the 50 Freestyle.
Sophomore diver Matthew Mitchell has also qualified for states and may end up breaking the school record for points in a season.
“He’s never went states before, so he’s had to learn a bunch of new dives. You only do six dives in a meet like this, but you do 11 at states, so he’s had to learn new dives to compete at that level.”
Cooney has been impressed with the team so far and is now training them to swim their best once conference and states roll around, “I tell them to have faith in me. Nobody is going to do a best time at every meet, even Michael Phelps, but as long as you’re steady throughout the meets and have faith in me that I know how to taper you for champs and states. They’re already swimming beyond where I thought we could do, so I couldn’t be more proud of them. I see a bright future”
Rocky Hill's swimming and diving team celebrates a competitive meet at WHS
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin