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The Greater New Haven boys’ swimming and diving team is a new program that will be competing for the first time this winter. The team features athletes from North Haven, Guilford, East Haven, and North Branford. (Photo courtesy of Ellen Bergin )
East Haven sophomore Hethon Foster is a key member of the Greater New Haven boys’ swimming and diving squad. Last year, Foster made some major waves in the postseason meets while representing East Haven as a team-of-one. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
North Haven resident Stephen Borrelli, a senior, is one of six captains who will be leading the Greater New Haven boys’ swimming and diving squad on the water this winter. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
After previously representing North Branford as a team-of-one, junior Connor Coyne is competing for a full-fledged squad as a member of the Greater New Haven boys’ swimming and diving program this season. (Photo courtesy of Ellen Bergin )
Guilford senior Aidan Henry is one of the captains for the Greater New Haven boys’ swimming and diving team. Henry took first place in the 500 freestyle at the SCC Championship as a member of the Branford-Guilford co-op squad last year. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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Athletes from four shoreline towns are joining forces to form the Greater New Haven (GNH) boys’ swimming and diving team this winter. The team features 27 athletes who live in either North Haven, East Haven, North Branford, or Guilford. GNH is coached by Martha Phelan, who is the head coach of the North Haven girls’ swimming and diving squad and also coached North Haven’s boys’ swim team for the past several seasons.
North Haven was going to be down to just seven returning athletes this year, putting things up in the air for the 2019-’20 campaign. Coach Phelan thought that it would be good idea to team up North Haven’s athletes with people from surrounding towns to give all of them the experience of competing for a high school squad.
After Phelan received approval from both the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) and the Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC), the GNH boys’ swimming and diving team was born. GNH will host its home meets at the Walter Gawrych Community Pool in North Haven.
“I think that everyone who wants to participate should have the opportunity to represent their high school. There’s nothing like the experience of competing for a high school team. The meets are exciting, the matchups are exciting, and so I’m glad that these kids have that opportunity,” Coach Phelan said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what these kids can do. We are going to have flexibility and depth that we never had before on the North Haven team.”
There are 12 Guilford students and nine North Haven students on GNH’s roster, along with three athletes apiece from both East Haven and North Branford. Guilford had formed a co-op squad with Branford the last few years, but the Hornets are not affiliated with GNH.
East Haven and North Branford were not officially part of a co-op program last season. In recent years, any swimmers from those two towns were allowed to practice with a local team and compete at its meets during the regular season, but could not score points toward that team’s total. Then in the postseason, those athletes could represent their respective high schools as a team-of-one and score points on the school’s behalf.
Now, everyone from these four towns is one big, happy family as GNH hits the water for its inaugural season. Even though many of the boys had never met each other prior to this year, Coach Phelan said that she already feels a unified vibe permeating throughout the club.
“They just had their first pasta party, and they were all excited to get together. I sense great chemistry on this team already, and I think that stems from the appreciation they have to be on this team,” said Phelan, who won a Class M state title with the North Haven girls’ team during the recent fall season. “These boys feel so grateful to be on a team. They don’t mind taking a bus to travel to the pool. They all have great personalities and really seem to jell. Everyone is making an effort to be inclusive, so we can blend together.”
GNH is being led by six captains this season, including three from North Haven and three from Guilford. The captains from North Haven are senior Stephen Borrelli, who swims distance freestyle events; junior Tanner Powell, a sprint freestyler who also does the butterfly and breaststroke, and fellow junior Joe O’Connor, a diver.
The other North Haven students on the team are juniors Cameron Cargan, Raymond Lewis, and Ahmed Anwar; along with sophomore Kyle Borrelli and freshmen Isaiah Becton and Christian Butler, a diver. GNH’s diving coach is Bob Lewis, who also works with the divers on the North Haven girls’ team.
GNH’s three captains from Guilford are senior Aidan Henry, a versatile swimmer whose signature is the freestyle events; senior Evan Laughlin, who is primarily a freestyler; and junior Daniel Kamen, who is solid in distance freestyle events and the 200 individual medley.
Last year, Henry took first place in the 500 freestyle while representing the Branford-Guilford team at the SCC Championship, after which he finished third at the Class L State Championship and fourth in the State Open. As a larger co-op team, GNH will be competing in the Class LL ranks for states this season.
The other Guilford athletes on the squad are juniors Collin Romero, Alan Penna, and David Zhang; sophomores Finn Henry and Miguel Pearce; and freshmen RT Trotter, Aiden Cohen, Lucas Espinosa, and Joey Gould. Finn Henry placed second in the 500 freestyle and fourth in the 200 freestyle at last year’s SCC meet.
GNH also features three East Haven swimmers, led by sophomore Hethon Foster. While representing East Haven as a team-of-one last year, Foster took second place in the 100 freestyle at the SCC Championship and then came in third for the 100 butterfly at the Class M State Championship.
Foster is joined on GNH by fellow East Haven residents Pavlo Melnyk, a sophomore; and Dylan Sobolewski, who is a freshman.
The North Branford contingent is led by junior Connor Coyne. Last season, Coyne took eighth place in the 200 individual medley and was 10th in the 100 breaststroke at the Class S State Championship.
North Branford freshmen Patrick Cucchiarelli and Spencer Carroll are also members of GNH. Carroll is the lone female on the squad.
GNH is one of eight teams that competes in Division II of the SCC. Last year, Sheehan won the division with Branford-Guilford finishing second and North Haven placing third. With a big roster that features plenty of talented athletes across every event, Coach Phelan thinks that GNH has a solid shot of claiming the SCC Division II crown this season.
“We have an opportunity to take the Division II title. That would be a goal. We certainly have the talent and enough depth,” Phelan said. “I have big expectations for this team. It’s all come together very quickly, and it’s going to be a great season. The boys are excited, and I’m excited to coach such a good team.”
From the Sidelines
The Greater New Haven (GNH) boys’ swimming and diving team competes in Division II of the SCC. The other teams in SCC Division II are Foran-Law, Hamden, Lyman Hall-Coginchaug, Notre Dame-West Haven, Sheehan, Shelton, and West Haven-Platt Tech.
GNH has home meets against Hand, Fairfield Prep, Cheshire, Hamden, Lyman Hall-Coginchaug, and Sheehan this season. GNH will also be on the road to face Amity, Lyman Hall-Coginchaug, West Haven-Platt Tech, and Foran-Law during the 2019-’20 campaign.
GNH Head Coach Martha Phelan was initially head coach of the North Haven girls’ swimming and diving team from 2001 to 2005. After leaving the program, Phelan returned in 2013 and has been its head coach ever since. She also became head coach of the North Haven boys’ team in 2013.
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