Lee Schwartzman has been coaching the Wethersfield boys and girls swimming programs for the last half-dozen years. Throughout his time at Wethersfield, he has coached many phenomenal athletes and is hoping that this year’s boys’ season ends with their sixth straight Central Connecticut Conference championship.
“Our goal is always to get our kids to work hard and improve,” Schwartzman said, “Our expectation is to win conference every year and the ultimate goal is to win state.”
Schwartzman, who has a passion for swimming that is unmatched, also coaches at the Pine Acres Swim Club in Wethersfield. This give him the opportunity to coach kids from an early age, which helps prepare the young swimmers for the expectations at the high school level. It also allows him to anticipate the quantity and quality of the swimmers that will be coming through the high school swim program.
“We usually average between 25 and 30 swimmers, but last year we had a large senior class,” Schwartzman said, “We lost nine seniors, all of who were state qualifiers.”
The loss of the seniors and less swimmers doesn’t deter the coach, who said that fewer kids give him more time to work with each athlete individually.
He also challenges his swimmers by pitting them against the best competition in order to prepare them for state.
“I’d rather have the kids swimming against fast competition, even if that means we have two or three more losses,” Schwartzman said, “because the kids will be faster at the end of the year.”
In order to challenge his team further, he often schedules meets against teams outside the area. This includes teams from the shoreline, who traditionally have athletes that swim year-round. Wethersfield has a few swimmers that swim all year, but the goal is for all of the athletes to keep swimming during the off-season.
“Swimming isn’t like basketball or football, where playing together matters. It’s all about the time and how fast you can swim,” Schwartzman added, “My goal is to get the kids swimming as fast as they can during the season, but then there are months in between where it’s up to them to swim.”
One of Wethersfield’s year-round swimmers is Colin Curtin, who has a chance to win a few state titles and post All-American times this season. Curtin, along with fellow seniors Brendan Stewart and Dan Camilliere, are Wethersfield’s team captains. The trio is hoping to end the season with individual state titles, or possibly a team title.
“Individually there are twelve events at state, including diving,” Schwartzman said, “We could win seven of them.”
Despite the years of success, the Wethersfield swim team still doesn’t get the recognition that other sports garner. This is something that Schwartzman is hoping to change, but he also realizes that the lack of recognition comes with the territory.
“Swimming is a sport that flies under the radar,” Schwartzman said, “Swimmers will never get the level of respect they deserve, whether they’re winning or not.”
The success of the program speaks for itself, but the dedicated coach has been able to make the swim meets even more appealing. Their meets are usually scheduled for evenings, which allows for more people to attend, and during home meets there is a chance that the school’s pep band will be playing. Pep bands are unusual for swim meets, but Schwartzman believes that noise, whether cheering or music, is good for the athletes.
The team will take on Middletown on Friday, Jan 24th and then host last season’s Class M champion Brookfield at Wethersfield High School on Friday, Jan 31st. The meets are open to the public and admission is free. To cheer on the conference champs and enjoy the festive atmosphere, come see any of the team’s home meets at Wethersfield High School starting 5 p.m.
2/11 Rocky Hill
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin