PRINCETON: Hun boys return to pool

Campbell enjoys return to swimming

By Justin Feil, Assistant Sports Editor
   After a two-week layoff around exams, Matt Campbell was looking forward to getting back in the pool.
   The Hun School junior enjoys swimming more than he ever expected to when he joined the team.
   ”I was pretty surprised,” Campbell said. “I didn’t expect this much.”
   Campbell had swum previously for the Flemington-Raritan Community Pool summer team that competes in the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association. He joined the Raiders two years ago as a freshman.
   ”I wasn’t really looking forward to it,” Campbell said. “I only swam a couple summers before it. Now that I made the high school team, I started swimming a lot more. It’s been fun.”
   Campbell has developed into a regular contributor in the 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley as well as a pair of relays for the Raiders. He has improved as his dedication has increased.
   ”Swimming for Hun brought him back into it,” said Hun coach Mark Kolman. “He started to get excited about it again and started to get into swimming again. He’s quietly gone about his business, and his business has been really good.”
   In Hun’s first year of having split teams, Campbell has helped the boys go 4-1 heading into Thursday’s scheduled meet against Moorestown Friends. The girls are 1-2.
   ”The girls, they’re doing really well,” Kolman said. “We tend to come up short, losing meets by just a couple of points, and some of it has to do with the depth. On the girls side, we are pretty reliant on our older girls with Blair (Sirockman) and Emily Logan as seniors this year, and PJ (Kolman) and Aly Walsh are two juniors, then we have a big crop of sophomores and freshmen. On the girls side, there’s more in the pipeline than the boys side.”
   Campbell is looking forward to seeing the boys experience aid a big finish to what’s been a strong season. The Raiders’ lone loss came against St. Benedicts. Hun hadn’t swum anyone before Moorestown since topping Ranney, 90-70, on Jan. 15.
   ”We are pretty excited to get back into swimming against other teams,” Campbell said. “We had a lot of returning swimmers. We’ve mainly been swimming since freshman year. We’ve built up the boys side. There are dedicated people on the boys side.”
   The Raiders hope to build quickly with the Mid-Atlantic Prep League set for Feb. 6, a final dual meet with Lawrenceville on Feb. 10 and then the Prep A meet Feb. 16. They were back in the water on Monday for practice after the long layoff that gave them time to recover, but also hurt their overall conditioning.
   ”I kind of felt both,” Campbell said. “At first, I was refreshed to get back in. As we started working out more, I got tired.
   ”We have to get ourselves mentally ready and try to get in the water and try to swim on our own.”
   Before Campbell’s backstroke developed into his favorite stroke, he was best in the butterfly. The backstroke came along with high school and summer team practice.
   Said Campbell: “The high school team is a lot more competitive. More people are dedicated to it compared to the summer team. I think the people are more fun. The kids are all dedicated to swimming.”
   Hun’s swimmers, though, don’t have long to get into shape to compete in the MAPL and state meets, but they are intent on making the best showing possible.
   ”What I like about MAPLs is it gives the Hun swimmers a chance to swim in a championship type of meet, but without a lot of pressure,” Kolman said. “Everyone knows Peddie and Mercersburg will dominate MAPLs, Lawrenceville will throw a swimmer in there and maybe Hill too. There’s no pressure going into that meet. It allows the majority of our swimmers to swim freestyle events. Without the training that a lot of teams have, our swimmers revert back to freestyle events. I let the kids pick their event at championships.”
   The Raiders have been encouraged by the progress that they’ve seen this season despite splitting their program into two teams.
   ”We’re trying to build on our versatility and build into the depth for both teams,” Kolman said, “and they’re starting to come around to it now. That’s been a big part of our success, being able to go down to those third, fourth, fifth place finishes.”
   Matt Campbell hasn’t been worried about his places. He’s just enjoying being back in the pool every chance he gets, and he still has one year to go.
   ”I really like swimming so I’m excited to see what happens,” he said.