With a handful of their best swimmers having graduated last year, the veteran members of the West Deptford High School swim team weren’t exactly sure what would be in store for the Eagles this season.
Once the initial shock of who wasn’t there wore off, the student-athletes started realizing that maybe things wouldn’t be so bad.
“We started practicing and we realized we are not awful, so we will try,” senior captain Jack Baldwin said with a laugh.
Not awful at all.
West Deptford defeated Haddon Township, 109-74, Tuesday afternoon to move to 5-0 on the season. It’s safe to say that the pool at RiverWinds is overflowing with confidence.
“In our first meet, we did good and then we started to do better and better, and our morale has been sky rocking,” Baldwin said. “We went from thinking we were a mediocre team to being in the running.”
Baldwin isn’t the only one who has noticed a change around the team.
“It is kind of surprising but I think we have worked really hard and we have great coaches,” sophomore Natalie Theriault said. “We try our best at practice and we have some new kids who are really good swimmers, and we also have some experience. I think that we are just one great team and we all help each other in practice.”
“Being a senior and having been here all of the previous years, I can really feel the team coming together,” said Kelly McSorley. “Usually we don’t have that many swimmers qualifying for sectionals and this year we have like seven or eight so far.”
Kelly’s brother Matt has also been a big part of the team’s success, emerging as the team’s top 50 and 100 freestyle swimmer.
“It’s really fun,” Matt said. “It is fun winning because I am a competitive person. It’s nice being a part of the team where you are a big impact and feel like you are needed.”
Tuesday was a breakthrough day for four swimmers who performed well enough to achieve a time that qualifies them to compete at the South Jersey Interscholastic Swimming Association Coaches Invitational later in the month. Tyler Maher (50 free), Greg Anderson (100 breast), Theriault (200 free) and Kelly McSorley (100 back) each punched their ticket to swimming’s closest event to sectionals.
“It’s really exciting because it’s my first time qualifying,” said Theriault.
Baldwin said the experience of seeing his teammates reach new heights has been a rewarding one.
“I swam with a lot of these kids for three and four years and it is really cool to see your friends move on, and then once you follow suit it shows you that you have gone a long way,” Baldwin said.
West Deptford knows that several challenges still await it—including Thursday’s contest with Sterling—but the swimmers are beaming with confidence with a belief that no goal is unobtainable.
“I think the team can accomplish what we set our minds to,” said Baldwin. “We can go the distance. It is within us. It’s just a matter of do we want to try hard enough—and I think we do.”
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