Throughout the course of a season, just about every team will experience a great high and a disappointing low. It just isn’t very often a team experiences those two emotions back-to-back.
Two days after opening its season with a 121-62 loss to Washington Township, the West Deptford High School swim team defeated Moorestown Friends by nearly the identical score.
Naturally it was Thursday’s win (120-62) that felt much more meaningful to the Eagles.
“The funny thing about this meet is that the scores are the complete opposite,” head coach Juliet Lancaster-Avila said. “We are on the opposite end of where we were against Washington Township, so it was good for our kids to get the feeling of what it feels like to be that good in a meet. We had a number of freshmen swimming in events they have never swam in before, and they all did great. We also had a lot of people swimming times that beat their personal bests that they ended with last year.”
While the level of competition certainly played a role in each of the lopsided scores, there was no denying that the Eagles swam much better at their second meet of the season.
“This is a huge turnaround from (Tuesday),” senior John Meagher said. “Everyone is improving. Just off yesterday to today there were a bunch of dropped times. I think we are going to have a really good season.”
West Deptford has the look of a team that will have quite a few ups and downs this season and may end up somewhere around the .500 mark. The squad is led by sophomore standout MacKenna Angert, who won the 100 free and 100 backstroke Thursday. Angert was a sectional qualifier in both events last year, and is hoping to go even further this season.
“If I could qualify for states, that would be great,” Angert said.
Angert’s times are already slightly better than they were at the end of last year, a tribute to the amount of laps the swimmer put in during the offseason.
“I just kept working during the summer and spring,” said Angert. “You've got to push to get the results.”
On the boys' side Meagher and Kevin Lokaj are the most experienced swimmers. Both are looking to help fill a void left by last year’s top swimmer, Nick Baud, who elected to drop swimming to focus on preparing for the spring lacrosse season. Lokaj won the 200 freestyle and was on the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams, while Meagher won the breaststroke and was a member of the 400 relay squad.
Despite the major loss from Baud's departure, Lancaster-Avila is confident the returning boys have what it take in terms of talent and leadership to remain competitive.
“They just need to keep that determination and that motivation and heart that they all have already,” Lancaster-Avila said. “Now that they are captains, they can bring that enthusiasm to the team and win races like they did today to just pump everyone up.”
The coaching staff is also high on a group of freshmen who will lay the foundation of the program for years to come. A group of five freshman entered high school already with experience from the summer clubs.
It hasn’t taken them long to make their impact felt.
“They are really pulling us together,” Angert said. "We kind of lost hope, losing all the seniors, but when these freshman came in we thought, ‘We can do it. We got it.’”
“They are really stepping up and picking up the points that we need for these wins,” added Meagher.
West Deptford returns to the pool Tuesday against Pitman at RiverWinds.