Sporting a new head coach and assistant coach, many new swimmers, and revitalized optimism for a successful season, the Simsbury High School swim team kicked off its 2012-2013 campaign with style, medaling in six events at the Bulkeley Relays and qualifying more than 20 team members for postseason competition in the team’s first week of dual meets. First-year head coach Scott Chambers is enthusiastic about these early accomplishments and proud of his team.
“We had a great preseason, our best-ever performance in the Bulkeley Relays, and we’re already starting to reach some of our main goals for the year,” Chambers said. The Bulkeley Relays is a multi-school meet that serves as the unofficial start to the season. Two contests into the dual meet schedule, Simsbury is 1-1 after a loss to Farmington and a win over Granby.
Chambers ascended to the top coaching job this season after two seasons as assistant under former coach Denise Raymond. Assistant coach Mary Fran Drakely and diving coach Rich Kowalski round out his coaching staff. Drakely is new to Simsbury’s program, while Kowalski is returning for his twelfth year overall and rejoining the coaching staff for the first time since 2001. Chambers and company will rely on a strong group of returning swimmers, and the team’s future seems bright due to the addition of 14 freshmen, including several standouts.
“This team has a great nucleus of talent, so we’re strong in many events,” Chambers said, citing senior co-captains Doug Nicholson, Alex Ratajczak, Shelby Downes, and Kelly Savino as some of the Trojans’ main anchors across the events, along with juniors Kyle Chambers, Sammi Dowd, Nick Stamboulis, and Jeremy LaVerde; and sophomores Nikki Kowalski, Brenna Welsh, and Sophie Sloan. Freshmen Sean Russell, Harry Saperstein, Ana Jahrstrofer, and Max Braun are already making their mark and “adding even more depth to our relay teams, which look great,” said Chambers.
Junior Katie Amarell and sophomore Cameron Schoffstall are the team’s greatest threats in diving, and both qualified for the postseason State Open tournament during the first meet against Farmington. The team’s other current qualifiers for State Open events are Doug Nicholson in 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard butterfly, and 100-yard breaststroke; and Kyle Chambers in 50-yard freestyle.
Simsbury competes against the other teams in the CCC conference, which are mostly strong programs featuring all-boy teams. Other schools in the conference include Conard and Hall (West Hartford), Southington, and Farmington. Chambers acknowledges those teams as “very competitive,” and expects those meets “will be tough.” Watch for exciting meets against Northwest Catholic and Shepaug Valley, which are both co-ed teams. “Last year, Northwest and Shepaug came down to the last relay,” Chambers noted.
Numerous Simsbury girls have already qualified for the “Splash Classic,” a late-February tournament event open to girls from Connecticut high school swim teams who compete in the winter season. The swimming and diving season for all-girl teams takes place in the fall. Girl swimmers and divers who play a fall sport may choose to be on their school’s swim team that competes in the winter, which is the traditional season for all-boy teams. In some cases, schools without pools may decide to not have a girls’ season in the fall, so girls may join the boys’ team in the winter. As a result, most girls who swim or dive during the winter season rarely compete only against other girls in their events. “Splash” gives girls on co-ed teams the opportunity to compete in a tournament intended just for them.
The Trojan swimmers also look forward to special team-building events throughout the season, including weekly team dinners at different team members’ homes; the annual Swim-A-Thon, a combination fund-raiser and charity event that takes place in January; and senior night, a celebration honoring the careers of the departing Trojan swim team seniors.
For more information about the team and upcoming meets, please visit www.simsburyswimming.org.