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Article Published February 6, 2020

Henry Leads the Warriors Through Actions and Words

By By Dan Fappiano

When the Greater New Haven Warriors boys’ swimming and diving squad took on Amity last month, the team found itself trailing after the first few events of the meet. That’s when senior captain Aidan Henry stood up and began to speak. Aidan gave an impassioned speech in which he emphasized how every point matters and that the Warriors needed to come together as a group in order to win.

“They were listening to everything he had to say, hanging on to every word. They were all-in,” Head Coach Martha Phelan says of Aidan. “He did a great job of motivating his team and giving them confidence. He used his own words and he used them well.”

The Warriors would go on to earn a 96-89 victory versus perennial powerhouse Amity. Aidan was the Warriors’ last swimmer in the pool and helped secure the victory by anchoring the triumphant 400 freestyle relay in the contest’s final event.

Aidan is a senior at Guilford High School who’s competing for the Warriors—a co-op team that features athletes from Guilford, North Haven, East Haven, and North Branford—in its first year of existence. Last year, Aidan swam for the Branford-Guilford co-op squad and took first place in the 500 freestyle at the Southern Connecticut Conference Championship with a time of 4:44.28. He followed that up with a third-place finish in the Class L State Championship (4:40.45) and a fourth-place performance at the State Open (4:38.34).

However, for Aidan, swimming alongside his Warriors’ teammates outweighs any individual achievements.

“They’re fun, but it’s not the same kind of satisfaction I get during the dual-meets,” Aidan says. “When I’m swimming one-on-one with another team and you have to win the race because your team depends on it, there’s no more rewarding feeling than to put the team on your back a little bit, making sure the next guy’s job is a little easier and making sure you can help the team walk away with a win.”

Swimming has been a big part of the Henry family for generations. Aidan’s father Jim Henry is the head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams at Yale University, having been with the program for six seasons. Aidan calls swimming “the family business” and credits his father for getting him started with the sport at a young age.

“He does a great job of being both a parent and a swim coach,” Aidan says of his dad. “When you ask for swimming advice, he will be 100 percent and give you what you’re looking for.”

Aidan isn’t the only member of the Henry family who swims for the Warriors. His brother Finn, a sophomore, also competes on the team. Aidan and Finn both swam on the 400 freestyle relay that helped the Warriors notch their big win against Amity.

“It’s awesome. He pushes me in practice day-in and day-out,” says Aidan of swimming with his brother. “As a sophomore, he’s right on top of me right with my times, and he’ll be able to do things in his swimming career that I was not able to achieve during my time in high school. I’m really excited for what he has next and how he is going to perform in the future.”

Aidan’s career took an interesting turn when he went from swimming for a two-school co-op to a four-school team this winter. The Warriors have 27 athletes on their roster between the four towns.

Coach Phelan has only been working with Aidan for a couple of months, but that’s been more than enough time for her to see the type of leader he is.

“From the first practice, I knew that Aidan was not only going to be a great leader, but he was going to have a huge impact on the success of our team. He is very passionate about winning in a sportsmanlike way that you would want your team to behave,” Phelan says. “It’s been really rewarding to watch his leadership and not only his personal contributions in the pool, but outside, as he is always making sure everyone is included and no one is left out. He understands what it takes to be a real leader. He’s been a joy to coach.”

After he graduates from Guilford, Aidan plans to attend the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York and compete for its men’s swimming team. Aidan is looking for the leadership that he brought to the Warriors to translate to his life after high school.

“I love being a part of a team and fighting over a common goal. At West Point, I’m not just a member of the swim team, I’m on a team with other cadets,” says Aidan. “Being able to push each other to our true potential and having them push me is something that I’m so looking forward to. Their mantra there is, ‘Duty, Honor, Country,’ and I can’t think of any better principles than keeping our brothers alive.”

When Aidan heads off to West Point, he will have already accomplished many of his personal goals. Still, the most important thing for Aidan is that his performances in the pool help his team succeed.

“There’s so much you can get working for your own success,” Aidan says. “But ultimately, when you’re fighting for the success of a team, you will always do your best.”