A new start—whether it be a new year, season, or team altogether—is almost never without obstacles. Both the boys and girls swim teams are facing a number of adjustments following the retirement of former Head Coach Greg Hand, who guided the boys to a State Public B Championship in 2012. Although he is no longer head coach, Hand will remain involved with the team as a volunteer assistant, and the athletes are excited to work with new Head Coach Carly Misiewicz, who previously served as assistant coach.
“[Hand] shows up to a couple of our practices a week, so it’s definitely nice to still see him there and have his input,” said Co-Captain Hannah Ash ’15. “[However], [Misiewicz] is doing a really good job of keeping us … connected as a team.”
“So far it’s been a really smooth transition,” said Co-Captain Matt Shanahan ’15. “Coach Mis was around last year, so she knows how things were run … and she’s [been] able to adapt.” Shanahan continued, “Although she’s bringing new stuff, and we are sort of adjusting to it … the general format of practices [and] meets is the same.”
“[Misiewicz] was a swimmer too and knows how a swimmer trains … She has experience,” said Harry Zhang ’16, who competes in the 200- and 400-relay. Though Misiewicz is a relative newcomer to the school, she is no novice to the sport of swimming. Misiewicz, who is in her second year of teaching at PHS, was a varsity swimmer for the NCAA Division I program at Rider University for her entire college career. She is using her depth of experience to inspire PHS swimmers to perform at their best.
Both teams have begun to place a greater amount of responsibility on their younger athletes, especially the boys. While the girls are anticipating a successful season due to underclassmen like Abbey Berloco ’18 and Maddie Whaley ’17, the boys are in the midst of a rebuilding period.
“We lost quite a few seniors—Colburn Yu [’14], Peter Kalibat [’14], Will Stange [’14], Avery Soong [’14], Matt Tam [’14], Matt Purdy [’14]—a lot of our point scorers, definitely,” Misiewicz said. “The good thing is that a lot of the juniors, sophomores, seniors, and even the freshmen … [are] all stepping up and filling those holes.”
With many freshmen club swimmers entering the high school this year, including Oliver Hunsbedt ’18 and Grant Ding ’18, the boys swim team is at no lack for natural talent. Hunsbedt swam a 1:55.60 in the 200 freestyle at the first meet of the year against Hopewell Valley Central High School, which the boys won 107–62.
“People are breaking into new roles and getting faster at what they can do, and I think that that’s really going to help us going forward,” said Shanahan. However, the team’s skill has yet to match that of last year’s team, as on December 9 the boys experienced an 87–83 loss to West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South which ended their 48-match Colonial Valley Conference dual-meet winning streak.
Last season, the team advanced to the finals of the NJSIAA Public B championship and the boys are determined to work toward this goal once again.
Likewise, the girls team is already looking ahead to the challenges of the postseason. The team posted a record of 12–1–0 during the 2013–2014 period and was undefeated for nearly the entire season, winning sectionals but eventually falling 76–94 to Ocean City High School in the NJSIAA Public B semifinal. “The team as a whole is looking to go very far in sectionals and states this year,” said Madeleine Deardorff ’16. “We have a lot of depth, and … the standards are pretty high [so] we’re really excited to see what comes out of the season.”
While overall the girls have had a smoother transition than the boys, they are facing difficulties regarding a loss of underclassmen to swimming clubs. Two of the most competitive underclassmen, Jamie Liu ’17 and Amanda Bank ’17, have chosen to compete solely with their clubs, but many of the swimmers believe that the group will still be able to perform as it has in the past. Liu was a member of the 400 freestyle relay team that won at the state semifinal meet against Ocean City, despite the team’s overall loss. Bank helped Princeton to a 130–40 win over rival Notre Dame High School as a member of the first-place 200 freestyle relay.
Nevertheless, the girls have taken the loss in stride and do not expect a huge change in terms of their performance at meets. “We’re definitely sad to see [the underclassmen] go but we haven’t really let it worry us too much,” Ash said. “We … know that with the people that we’ve got we’re still really strong.”
The girls are hoping to build off of their first meet on December 2, which was a 125–45 victory over Hopewell Valley High School. They also won their second meet against Trenton High School by another wide margin of 136–21. For now, the group is working on perfecting its strategy against rival teams in the area. “Throughout the season we’ll figure out [what types of swimmers other teams] have and what we need to do to compete with them,” Deardorff said. “As long as we remain confident … everything will be ok.”
For both teams, Misiewicz has placed an emphasis on land workouts so that the athletes perform better once they get in the pool. “[I have] definitely made dryland a lot harder this year than it [was] last year [by] incorporating medicine balls [and] combat ropes,” Misiewicz said. “We’re really working hard when we don’t have meets, especially over the weekend. I plan to have really, really hard training sessions over [winter] break.”
Coaching changes are always difficult, especially when they affect so many people on both the boys and girls teams. However, the group hopes to find success this season to allow growth for the entire program in the future. Shanahan said, “I think that we have a great group of people on … both [the] boys and girls teams. If we really put our heads down and really work hard … I think we can go pretty far this year.”