By Roger Wistar
This year's boys swimming and diving team sports a roster that is a bit smaller than recent editions, but with some key additions that should help the team field strong candidates in key events.
"Every meet, we need to maximize our swimmers by putting them in the right events to take advantage of their versatility," said head coach Keith Moon of the 22 boys on the team.
Although the team is on the younger side, with 13 preps and lower mids, Moon said he was encouraged by the prior experience that many of the newcomers have brought to the team. "There's no difference in terms of training," he said. "There's good leadership all around the pool."
Several of these new swimmers may be called on to make important contributions to the team this season. Moon highlighted the potential of preps like Chris Tolis '21, William Wildish '21, and Royce Shey '21, the latter of whom will be counted on to make his mark in the breaststroke.
Several returners will hope to continue improving and developing from last year's success at New Englands, where the team enjoyed a tremendous finish, with swimmers recording personal bests in every race in which they swam.
"We had a perfect day," said Moon. "We ended up doing much better than we expected to do. I have no reason to expect we won't do that again."
Key returners for the Bearcats include Noah Sorensen '19 (butterfly), Addison Oberting '19 (backstroke), Leo Poggi '20 (distance freestyle), and co-captain Alejandro Sarmiento '18, whose talents in multiple strokes may make him a likely contestant in the individual medley.
Co-captain Sean Doolan '18 pointed to the potential for he, Poggi, and Sarmiento to perform especially well in the long-distance freestyle events.
With the team's success at the end of last season, the boys have their eyes set on a high finish, hoping to end up in the top two at Founders. The team has finished third or fourth each of the last three years, and is aiming higher this year, said Sarmiento.
Moon praised Sarmiento and Sean Doolan for their work thus far with the team. "They're going to have a strong influence on everybody," he said.
Sarmiento agreed. "I think that my most important role as captain is ensuring that everyone holds themselves accountable, and keeps their long-term goals in mind," he said.
This year, Moon and the swimmers will once again be working with assistant coach John McBratney, who brings his own personal experience with high-level club and collegiate swimming to the team. Moon praised McBratney for continuing to bring new ideas to the team's practice routine.
The team was also fortunate to receive coaching for the second year from Olympic gold medalist Tyler Clary, who worked with the boys for a week before Thanksgiving Break. "It's exciting, it's amazing to have someone of that caliber work with our team," said Moon.
Clary's ability to demonstrate both common swimming pitfalls and how to correct them and swim at an elite level were especially valuable, said Moon. "With his personality and stature, when he says things, people listen," said Moon.