WEST WINDSOR: Belgium pair aiding North swimming

Knights sweep Hamilton in pool

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
   Todd Robinson found a nice surprise waiting for him on the pool deck when he arrived for the first day of swim practice this season.
   Shotallo and Hana Kato were at the pool ready for their first practice with the Knights and Robinson was thrilled to have them.
   ”They just moved here from Belgium,” the West Windsor-Plainsboro High North swim coach said. “He’s a hard-working kid and so is his sister. They are great kids to have on the team and they really lead by example. The first day of practice these kids show up and I saw them in the water and knew they were the real deal.”
   Both Shotallo and Hana have been swimming for years, but this season is their first with a high school program. They have spent the last 5½ years in Belgium before returning to the United States in August. The move proved beneficial for the North swim program.
   ”I am loving the team right now,” said Shotallo, who won the 400 freestyle as the Knights improved to 4-4 with a 124-46 win over Hamilton on Tuesday. “I have been swimming my whole life but this is actually a new experience. It is different than club. It’s more team based and I really like that. You are swimming not just for yourself but for your teammates.”
   Other winners for the Knights in the meet were Alex Yu (200 free), Mike Lin (200 IM), Abdallah Gendia (50 free and 100 free), Ethan Vacca (100 back) and Matt Chan (100 breast).
   In the girls meet, Hana Kato won the 200 IM to help the Knights to a 121-49 win over Hamilton. Becca Adlai-Gail won the 100 fly and 200 free, while Emily Hung won the 100 free and 100 back. Francesca Dong won the 50 free and Dan-Anh Hoang won the 100 breast.
   ”Our season has been more up than down,” Robinson said. “Our conference is usually pretty competitive. We have the South meet coming up and that is always exciting. It’s nice to have them at the end of the season.”
   The addition of the Kato siblings has helped an already solid program get even better.
   ”They come from a swimming family and are two of the hardest working kids I have,” Robinson said. “They are great kids and very accomplished competitive swimmers.”
   The move has been as beneficial for the team as it has been for the swimmers, who have enjoyed being part of the team.
   ”We have been swimming pretty much all our lives,” Shotallo said. “Swimming is the same everywhere but the sets are different. The style of how the coaches train you is different. I didn’t have many friends here when we moved and joining the swim team gave me a lot of new friends so I am really happy about being on the team.
   ”It is different from club swimming. I feel like high school swimming is more strategic because the coach has to get the right swimmers to score points.”