Friday, May 07, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

Espinosa Worked Hard to Return to the Water


Lucas Espinosa suffered a broken elbow last year, but worked hard to get back in the water and compete for the Greater New Haven Warriors as a sophomore this winter. Photo courtesy of Lucas Espinosa

Lucas Espinosa suffered a broken elbow last year, but worked hard to get back in the water and compete for the Greater New Haven Warriors as a sophomore this winter. (Photo courtesy of Lucas Espinosa )

Lucas Espinosa’s 2021 swimming season is one that almost didn’t happen. Last year, Lucas broke his right elbow while skateboarding, and there were doubts about whether he would be able to compete in his sophomore year.

“In November, I broke my arm, which led to a surgery a week later,” says Lucas. “When I was first injured, I was told that my chances for competing this season were slim, so I spent a lot of time in physical therapy doing exercises to hopefully get back in the water.”

Lucas never lost hope while going through all of his physical therapy sessions. Lucas persevered and returned to the water for the Greater New Haven (GNH) Warriors as a sophomore. In his final meet of the season, Lucas set a personal record by swimming a time of 1:02.13 in the 100-yard backstroke at the Southern Connecticut Conference Virtual Championship.

“In January, I was still only kicking and not using my arms at all in practice. Throughout the season, I was just grateful to be able to swim at all,” Lucas says. “However, toward the end of the year, I realized I had the chance to swim the fastest I ever had. After multiple times coming very close to my all-time best times, I finally broke a personal record in our final meet of the season, which I was very proud of.”

Lucas recently finished his second year as a member of the GNH Warriors boys’ swimming and diving team, a co-op that features athletes from East Haven, Guilford, North Branford, and North Haven. Head Coach Martha Phelan applauds Lucas’s determination to return to the sport he loves following his injury. Phelan says that Lucas had a lasting impact on a Warriors’ team that earned a share of the SCC Division I regular-season title and then finished in second place at the SCC Virtual Championship meet.

“Lucas began the season just coming off rehabbing from a broken arm. With great determination, Lucas not only returned to his previous competition times, but surpassed them by posting lifetime-best performances at the SCC Championships,” says Phelan. “Lucas is positive and is always seeking ways to improve. He is receptive to any suggestions to make that happen. Lucas was an integral part of our team success.”

Lucas started swimming when he was eight years old after his family joined a local racquet club. Lucas’s interest in swimming quickly took off, and he went on to join the Branford Stingrays club team at the Soundview Family YMCA.

“Not only did I love the sport itself, but the social aspect, as well,” Lucas says. “My favorite aspect of the sport is the individuality of it. When racing at a meet, it is you and you alone who decides how well you do for your team. You can always be sure you are contributing toward a win. In swimming, it is very easy to see your progress as you can compare your times to times you’ve recorded in the past.”

In addition to competing for the Warriors during the winter season, Lucas also swims for the Yale Bulldog club team on a year-round basis. Lucas pays attention to detail while logging all those miles in the water, and that sort of approach helps him succeed with each of his teams.

“When the winter season comes around, high school swimming is my main priority. However, during the rest of the year, I am just as dedicated on my other team to improving technique and speed,” says Lucas. “When in practice, whether it be for my high school or club team, I make sure to focus on the little things that only slightly improve my speed, but just may be the difference between a best time or a win.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GNH competed in virtual meets throughout the 2021 season. While it was a year unlike any other, Lucas enjoyed every second of the experience and takes great pride in contributing to the Warriors’ excellent campaign.

“I am happy with the way the season went. Regardless of the many restrictions on our team this year, I think we were able to make a great first season for our freshman and a memorable closing season for our seniors,” Lucas says. “Competing was definitely strange with limited spectators, but we made the best of it and did not let it damper our spirits. This was mostly due to the efforts of the coaches and the parents, who made this season seem as normal as possible. Our team’s success, on the other hand, was not impacted by COVID in the slightest. This was easily the most successful season we have ever seen.”

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