CAMBRIDGE — Swimming at Cambridge-South Dorchester High School is technique, conditioning, a love of the sport - and sometimes just desire and determination.
“I think it’s probably going to come down to who has the heart again this season,” Co-Coach Melanie Coleman said at the Dorchester Family YMCA after Monday’s first practice of the 2014 campaign.
She was remembering last season, when the boys went undefeated for the first time. The team had to face rival Queen Anne’s County in the final meet, and gutted out a close win.
“The other coaches told us they were untouchable,” Coach Coleman said.
She leads the team, concentrating on girls and technique, alongside Co-Coach Holly Stout, who works with the boys and specializes in strategy.
Things look promising for the program, which has proven popular over the years. “I’m excited,” Coach Coleman said. “We have a lot of new faces, which is good for our depth.”
That’s important in competitive swimming. Places are scored to fifth, so a talented team can win meet after meet while not necessarily winning many individual events.
Some of the athletes are just beginning to participate in the sport, but more than 10 of the newcomers have experience on the summer team. There are also many returning Vikings, which should help take the sting out of losing the very successful Nolan McMahon to graduation.
Now that the athletes are on a team, they are learning the difference between recreational and competitive swimming - there’s more to it than just going at it hard.
“We talk about streamlining, and proper breathing,” Coach Stout said. “They come in smacking the water.”
“It’s the little things,” Coach Coleman said. “We do fundamentals every day.”
In the midst of all the hard work, splashing and echoing voices in the pool house, there’s still room for fun. The team has always promoted a family-style atmosphere of caring and fairness. Fans can spot signs of this at meets, where Vikings are known for being especially supportive - and loudly cheering - their teammates.
The roster on Monday comprised the following players: Macy Foxwell, Jake Weber, Thomas Anderson, Corinna Kremser, Emory Wongus, Gabriella Lewis, Hunter Kane, Elaina Mills, Alyssa Holliday, Steffi Webster, Brooke Ewell, Taylor Baker, Karli Lewis, Emily Keener, Alexis Webster, Hannah Lewis, Jasmine Thompson, Ben Doyle, Charley Hurtado, Tyler Wright, Alex Hernandez, Erica Doty, Natalie Anderson, Madde Narr, Leah Krotee, Katie Ryan, Morgan Biskach, Shania Shockley, Micah Slacum, Nora Hauge, Rachel Robbins, Sean Grier, Jimmy Geleta, Patrick Geleta, Ranier Hood, Carley Shockley, Alexis Newton, Austin Nichols, Ben Cornwell, Thomas Pantzloff, Zhihong Pang, Liam Haynes, Justin Adams, Trevor North, Haley Wright, Deanna Tobin, Jacob Tieder and Ray Brohawn.
The Vikings will have their first meet of the season on Dec. 9, versus Kent County at 3:00 p.m. at the Dorchester YMCA.