Swimming makes changes for the new season

Lauren Browne '18, Entertainment Editor

The Swim Team is entering a new season, and evaluating the changes brought by the departure of many talented seniors. In the 2016-2017 season, both the boys and girls teams were North 2 Group C State Sectional Champs, as well as Skyland Conference Raritan Division Champs, the first time ever in Bernards Swimming history.

Yet, a majority of club swimmers who scored many points and held a few school records are no longer on the team, meaning that the head coach, Ed Tsuzuki, and the assistant coaches Tom Lawson and Mrs. Albanese-DeMair must work to change the strategy.

The team is welcoming 15 new swimmers, as well as 23 returning swimmers. This means that the first few weeks of practice are critical in their use for drills and technique work, preparing for the first meet on December 1st against Watchung Hills at the Somerset Hills YMCA. Last year, the girls’ team lost 78-92 points and the boys’ team won 106-63 against Watchung Hills.

Head Coach Ed Tsuzuki said “While the Bernards swim team lost 10 seniors to graduation in 2017, we are very fortunate to have 14 new swimmers this year, including the return of junior of Natalia Youssef. The 10 graduating seniors included 4 YMCA team swimmers, but 8 of the new swimmers are club swimmers, giving Bernards a very deep talent pool despite having a relatively small roster. Specifically, on the boys side, we have a roster of only 13 but 10 of them are club swimmers. I am confident that Bernards will continue to be a force to reckon with in the Skyland Conference Raritan Division!”

Captains Maren Petrie ‘18, Alex Kiel ‘18, Lauren Browne ‘18, Caroline Casella ‘19 and Matt Voight ‘19 have all been swimming on the team for their whole high school career. Kiel, Casella and Voight are all club swimmers on the Somerset Hills YMCA team, also known as SHY.

When asked about her thoughts on the new swimmers and the new season, Coach Mrs. Albanese says, “There’s a lot of potential and everyone is working really hard to get in shape and get ready for our first meet. I’m definitely expecting some record-breaking swims, but what I’m most excited for is when swimmers set new personal records. Our new swimmers especially tend to have the biggest drops in time over the season – it’s a tremendous achievement and it’s one of my favorite parts of coaching. I love that, with swimming, every swimmer has a chance to bring something valuable to the table and helps us do our best as a team.”

Senior Captain Maren Petrie says “I’m super excited to get to know the new swimmers and watch the team win a big victory again. I love spending time with my swimming friends. I think this bond has helped us be such a great team!”

The season was supposed to start later this year, but Tsuzuki decided it would be best to start on November 13th to get a head start on preparations for the Watchung Hills meet. Even after the first few practices, the team has been working hard, including the new swimmers, to refine their technique and improve their times. The incoming swimmers have energy and enthusiasm and have already worked to introduce themselves and become a part of the larger team.

Sophomore Sophie Ray said “I am a club swimmer which makes it hard to go to every practice because it’s time-consuming. But at meets, everything falls into place and we all put in 110% of our effort in events. Our relays have such passion and energy and our team is at the end of the pool cheering each other on throughout the whole meet, even if it’s home or way, one or four hours. We all support each other so much.”

The team has long-standing traditions such as the chant known as “Unchuck” that the boys do together during the girls 500 freestyle event. Also, for away meets, the team gets bagels that help to fuel them up for the meets. Last season, the girls worked hard and swam at Gloucester Institute of Technology. The venue held the Division Championships for other teams as well. Toward the end of the season, only some of the swimmers continue on for the high-caliber meets and Meet of Champions, the team, both boys and girls, are willing to dress up in  school spirit gear and cheer each other on.