No shortage of spirit on Brookside swim team

Young squad enjoying season regardless of win-loss record


Staff Writer

CHRIS KELLY staff Brookside Swim Club’s Tim Mancuso competes in the boys 15-18 200-meter freestyle race during a meet on Saturday against Crystal Springs in Milltown. CHRIS KELLY staff Brookside Swim Club’s Tim Mancuso competes in the boys 15-18 200-meter freestyle race during a meet on Saturday against Crystal Springs in Milltown. If wins and losses in summer swim meets were measured by team spirit, then the Brookside Swim Club swim team would probably be undefeated this summer.

In fact, head coach Carrie Ann Egan can’t talk about her 2005 team without raving about its tremendous team spirit.

“We’re having a spirited year,” said Egan, now in her eighth season as swim coach at the Milltown club. “This year’s team is full of spirit and there’s lots of cheering. I never saw a team cheer so much.”

Cheering aside, the outcome of swim meets unfortunately comes down to more than just that, and a very young Brookside swim team has yet to win a meet this season in five tries. But they’re getting better.

“I’ve seen a lot of time improvement,” said Egan, a swim enthusiast herself who’s been swimming since she was 9 year’s old and later swam for William Paterson University. “We have a lot of new kids whose techniques are getting better and their times are dropping every meet.

“So winning is not really important, but the kids’ improvement is.”

Not that the Brookside Swim Club is any stranger to success. The swim team has had several successful seasons since Egan took over, including last summer when they went 4-4, splitting their two meets with each of the other four teams in the summer swim league they compete in.

But this year’s team is young in comparison as most of the 72 boys and girls swimmers are on the low end of the 5-to-18 age span.

“We have a lot of 8U boys and girls,” Egan, who also coaches the girls and boys swim teams at Boonton High School, pointed out. “We have nine 8U girls and eight 8U boys. And a lot of our swimmers are new and in their first year with the team.

“We have 72 swimmers so we have a good amount,” she added. “But other teams have 80 and 90 kids, and one team has 110 swimmers. So most of the teams we go up against have more numbers than us.”

Competing in the A League Red division, the stronger of the two divisions (as opposed to the A League White), doesn’t help, either.

But you could never tell this was a team still searching for its initial win by the way they go about their Wednesday and Saturday swim meets.

“You can definitely see their enthusiasm. They actually keep all the coaches excited,” laughed Egan, whose assisted by Sarah Chicchi, in her fourth year, and first-year coach Tom Waidelich. “Even when they know they’re not going to win the meet, they’re just so happy to be there.

“They never complain. Everybody comes to practice, and we practice everyday except Sunday. Some of the younger kids will come in and ask ‘Is it time to swim yet? Is it time to swim yet?’ They have such a passion.”

That’s not all they have, either. Despite the 0-5 mark, there has been no lack of outstanding efforts by the Brookside swimmers. Eight year-old Courtney Thompson has been a consistent winner in the butterfly, freestyle, breaststroke and backstroke.

“She’s gotten a lot of points for the team,” Egan noted.

Speaking of a lot of points, Kurt MacDonald has recorded a number of first-place finishes in the boys 9-year-old age group.

Katie LaCava, an 11-year-old swimmer, and 14-year-old Colleen Mundorff have also scored “huge points,” according to Egan, as has David Tulchinsky, in his first year on the team, in the boys 15-18 age group.

Among the swimmers who have improved a lot throughout the season, Egan cited Alyssa D’Esposito (“She’s shown tremendous improvement”) in the 8U, and Stephanie Hitchens in

the 11-12-year-old group.

“This is her first year and she’s improved so much,” Egan said. “Being in the 11-12 group is a little bit harder, too, because the kids are older. But she’s at practice every day working hard.”

A pair of 5-year-old boys who bring a big smile to Egan’s face when she talks about their progress are Andrew Thompson and Rick Gupta.

“They have just improved tremendously,” their proud coach boasted.

In addition, 8-year-old Christopher Rettinger, who hurt his finger playing baseball and missed some early meets, recently rejoined the team and has looked good.

Egan is also excited about her 8U girls 100-medley relay team. The quartet of D’Esposito, Tori Glasscock, Thompson and Laine Selesky took first at a recent meet, while D’Esposito, Glasscock, Thompson and Angela Long captured top honors in an earlier meet.

And in a sport that relies on numbers, Egan says the Brookside team has been blessed with several big families. Like the LaCavas, who have four members of their family on the team.

Meanwhile, the Catania family has three (15-year-old twins Courtney and Travis, and 6-year-old Tyler) as does the Napolitano family (twins Jonathan and Andrew, and Ryan).

No wonder Egan is eagerly looking forward to the future and getting back on the winning track.

“We still hope to get a win by the end of this season,” she said.

“We had a really close loss to the Metuchen Municipal Pool team earlier this season and we get another chance against them next Wednesday.

“I really think we can beat them this time because we’ve improved so much over the season. I think we can do it.”

Lots of team spirit will help, too, and as we well know, the Brookside Swim Club swim team certainly has plenty of that.