Small, Young Swim Team Breaks Records at HCAC

Carlos Argueta

The Manchester swimming team just finished its season at the HCAC Championships, where students were able to break multiple school records and end the season on a high note. Despite countless obstacles, the swim team was able to overcome them and start a new chapter that is bright for the team.

The average size of a collegiate swimming team is between 28 and 31 for each a men’s team and women’s team, but this year the swim team only had ten swimmers for both men’s and women’s combined. With this small team size, it was improbable that the swimmers would clinch any top-three finishes as a team all together. To have a championship team, dozens of swimmers need to rack up points, and schools with multiple swimmers in the same event can double their points compared to schools that only have one student competing.

Adding to this challenge, the swim team was also very young as well, out of the ten students, two were seniors, and four were swimming at the collegiate level for the first time. “Swimming in high school and swimming at the collegiate level is very different,” said Juan Cabello, first year. “Swimming at the collegiate level is much more difficult and more demanding than high school.”

There was, however, a perk that came from having a small swim team: the family-like unit that formed among the ten students. The smaller group allowed everyone to build a strong bond and let the coaching staff connect with the swimmers in a one-on-one setting. “I loved our team,” said Jimena Torres, first year. “Even though we were a small team, we got really close to each other and created strong friendships.”

As the season progressed, the team was cutting significant time, and swimmers were improving their technique and endurance. Head Coach Mike Kocsis was able to focus substantial time with everyone, which benefited his goal of improving the team’s overall technique. With the one on one communication and the small group practices, Koscsis was able to analysis the swimmers’ performances piece by piece. “I think this training was great because Coach Kocsis focused more on technique than all my past coaches, which allowed me to swim faster and improve my time,” said Maria Wells, first year.

This year ended up being a successful year for the team overall. Even though the team did not have a chance to finish in the top positions, the individual performances made up for it. Records were broken at the HCAC Championship, and the team finished sixth overall. For instance, Shelby Kells, junior, broke three school records in the 50-yard freestyle, the 200-yard freestyle, and the 500-yard freestyle. Her times were 2:02.75 in the 200-yard freestyle, 5:36.63 in the 500-yard freestyle, and in the 100-yard freestyle event, she finished with a time of 56.27. The relay team of Kells, Katie Blystone, Jimena Torres and Maria Wells set a new school record at the HCAC Championship of the Women’s 200- yard freestyle with a time of 1:45.54 Lastly senior Christian Poole broke two school records with a time of 53.00 in the Men’s 100-yard butterfly and in the Men’s 100-freestyle with a time of 47.81.

The future looks bright for the swim team. New recruits and students are expected to join the swim team next year and will increase the size of the roster and will allow the team to now compete for overall team positions. Next year will also have a more experienced group within the squad to help guide new teammates and first years. “We have met some new recruits, and they look excited and ready to start,” Wells said. “I think if we just continued building on what we have done this year, more swimmers arrive to the team, and if we continue to motivate each other and stay close as a family, I think we will have a fantastic team next year.”