PRINCETON: Kinney doing it all for Nassau

By Justin Feil, Assistant Sports Editor
Will Kinney took on quite a bit of responsibility in his second year with the Nassau Swim Club.
Not only was he Nassau’s only male swimmer in the 15-18 age group for the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association Championships, but he also was an assistant coach throughout the regular season.
“I’d coach, then jump in the pool and swim,” said Kinney, who will be a junior at Princeton High School this fall. “This is my first year coaching. It was great. It was a wonderful experience.”
Kinney had swum for the Cranbury Catfish, where he got his start swimming in the boys 6-and-under age group. But when Cranbury’s team folded, Kinney took his talents to Nassau. This year, he jumped at the chance to coach.
“They approached me about it,” Kinney said. “When they asked, I was so happy. I started when I was 5 or 6. I remember looking up to the coaches. It was awesome they asked.”
Kinney can lead by experience. He has been swimming in the summers for a decade, and until this summer he was swimming year-round for Peddie Aquatics. Kinney has backed down from club swimming, but you couldn’t tell it from his times.
“He’s a sprinter,” said Nassau head coach Morgan Sawin. “In PASDA, you can sprint everything. I think he’s best at back and fly. He swims for Princeton High school and has done a little of everything.”
At the PASDA Championships, Kinney won the 50 free, was second in the 50 back and took second in 50 breast in the 18-and-under boys division. He was satisfied as a coach and as a swimmer.
“I was happy with those swims,” Kinney said. “I’ve been swimming club for a long time, but I didn’t swim club this summer. Those are right with my club team times.
“It was great to see how fast the kids swam. It was great to see them put their heads down and go as fast as they could.”
Nassau placed second in Division 2 behind Ben Franklin Swim Club. It was a solid ending to their summer season. They were competitive throughout the regular season and took that into the finals.
“We ended up 2-2,” Sawin said. “We lost both meets by a total of eight points so all of our meets were close. It really came down to numbers. We were right up there with the rest of our division.”
Sawin was pleased with the performances of her swimmers at the PASDA final. They did their best at the end of the year.
“We ended up second among our division,” she said. “We had a lot of kids pop out some fast times. We had good relays. We had kids place higher than they expected. They were excited about getting medals and ribbons. We had some new swimmers place in the top six.”
Kinney certainly wasn’t a new swimmer, but he was new to coaching. It gave him a new perspective on the PASDA season and how special it is to still compete in the summers.
“I love the champs environment,” he said. “Your whole team is there. They’ve been looking for chance to swim their best.”
Kinney loves the overall environment of PASDA. It’s a league where everyone enjoys swimming, respects the competition and is supportive. It’s the perfect atmosphere for Kinney to begin coaching.
“I definitely thought about it before,” Kinney said. “I wasn’t too sure how to get involved in it. I’ve been wanting to coach forever.”
He found the experience rewarding, and Nassau was happy to have added a swimmer with his passion and enthusiasm. It was contagious and the perfect inspiration for younger swimmers.
“He was our one of our assistant coaches,” Sawin said. “He was around a lot and the kids loved him. He led by example by winning everything. He was great to have around.”
Kinney could see it as giving back. The same example that had helped his swim career get started was something he could spread to others.
“That’s one of the biggest things,” Kinney said. “You help kids with their technique. It’s an important part. That helped them improve themselves. It was a lot of fun to watch them get faster.”
Kinney will return to being just a swimmer for Princeton High in the winter. With taking a break from club swimming, Kinney will have more time at regular team practices.
“What we did for Princeton, the club swimmers would have to go to a set amount of practices,” Kinney said. “We were friends with all the kids. It’ll be nice to see them every day.”
Kinney also can envision getting back into coaching and swimming again next year for Nassau. He learned how much he could help and looks forward to working with the returning crew.
“It’s looking really good,” Kinney said. “The younger kids are excited to get back. Now that the word has gotten around Cranbury, I think more Cranbury families are looking to join the swim team.”
As for Will Kinney, he is happy to have found a team that he can help during the PASDA season in any way possible.
“I’ve been doing PASDA since I was 4,” he said. “I can’t imagine not doing it.” 