Norwood Swim and Dive
By Christopher Tremblay
Although the Covid pandemic peakedb four years ago, the Norwood swim and dive team is still looking to build its program back up. This winter, the Mustangs have 21 athletes who will take to the pool to compete in numerous events. Having a smaller number of athletes makes it hard to compete against some of the larger schools, but Coaches Jen Dwyer and Kate Curtin said the kids are working extremely hard.
“Following Covid, there was a decline in numbers in all sports in general,” Curtin said. “We’re just trying to get kids to take part in the program and become part of a team. You want to win, but our focus is for the individuals to reach goals.”
Norwood has begun working with the recreational program in town to help build the future of the program. They are looking to spread the word. During the early part of the season, Norwood has already had two individuals qualify to take part in the Sectionals at the end of the year.
Junior Colleen Sisk (diving) and Bridget Sople (100 breast stroke) have already punched their ticket to the post-season for the Mustangs. Sople made it clear in the first meet of the season what she was looking to do as she swam a 1:17.68 (.14 of a second below the qualifying time of 1:17.86). Now she is looking to get down below 1:16.48 to earn a spot in the State Tournament.
“Last year, Bridget qualified on the last meet of the season and things carried over this year,” Curtin said. “She is a super hard worker and in the weeks prior to the year’s first meet you could see how dedicated and goal driven she was. I expect to see her time continue to go down as the season goes on.”
On the diving board, Sisk has already earned scores to qualify for the Sectionals as well as the States.
“It’s a big accomplishment for her to qualify in the first two meets,” Dwyer said. “Coming in as a freshman two years ago she had never dove and now she is 100% focused on her craft.”
Although the junior primarily finds herself participating in diving events, she will also take part in the pool if needed to help the team. In the past, she has swam the 50 freestyle and has been part of the team’s relays. Sisk is a team player that is willing to help the team score points in anyway that she can. According to Dwyer, most divers will put up 4 and 5’s, but Sisk has been scoring in the 6 and 7 point ranges consistently; she even earned one dive score at an unbelievable 8.5.
“She [Dwyer] has worked extremely hard on her skills and her diving has become so clean,” Curtin said. “Her skills have become refined, and she is always setting a high example to all the other divers, which are all new to the team this year.”
In addition to the qualifiers, newcomer and freshman Caleb Kwon had already broken two Norwood records. In the 200 freestyle, the freshman broke team Captain David DeMattia’s 2022 record (2:03.45) by swimming to a time of 2:02.68. He also etched his name in the record books by swimming a 1:05.78 in the 100 backstroke.
DeMattia may have lost his 200-freestyle record, but the senior captain still holds the high school record in the 200 IM (2:19.81) and the 500 freestyle (5:34.72). Although he is currently focused on the 200 IM and 100 Breast stroke, DeMattia is a very versatile athlete and strong competitor. Right now, he is scoring really well in those two events so he is trying to improve his times there for the time being.
“We’ll see what the season brings for him, but it’s his senior season so he is goal focused on individual improvement and cutting his times,” Dwyer said. “He’ll do what is best for the team to be successful, but being a senior, we are allowing him to do what he wants for now.”
In addition to DeMattia, Norwood has two other captains in Ted Caparrotta (butterfly and sprint freestyle) and Molly Keats (100 fly and 100 breast).
“Like any good group of captains, we are looking for leadership and sportsmanship from them while allowing our program to remain successful,” Curtin said. “This is an untied group that works well together and takes pride in being a close-knit group supporting one another in and out of the pool.”
Junior field hockey phenom Shae Larkee decided to come out for the team this winter and is taking part in the diving events and is already showing improvement on the board. The coaches are hoping that she eventually qualifies for the post-season.
Another noteworthy athlete is senior Anthony Cavanaugh, who was named an athlete of the meet already this season. Coach Dwyer noted that the senior has been putting in a lot of hard work, dedication, and commitment in the pool. His times continue to improve, and he is showing the talent of becoming a top 100 freestyle swimmer for Norwood.
“The 100 is a very competitive event and he has a personal best of 56.84,” Dwyer said. “It is important for him to get us points. He is an asset to the team individually but will also help out in the relays.”
Having numbers on the smaller side, Norwood was able to get a waiver allowing middle schoolers to swim on the team and thus far, two have shown incredible potential.
Eighth graders Anthony Silva and Michelle Connolly look to be part of the Mustang’s future in the pool. Silva is swimming hard and putting in great effort in the distance freestyle events, while Connolly is diving for the first time. Over the first few meets, she has improved considerably while her scores keep decreasing. Being middle schoolers participating on a varsity team is a very big commitment and both seem to be a breath of fresh air to the program.