H-K Co-op Swim Squad Showing Spirit in the Water
Senior captain Kyle Mazziotti and the Haddam-Killingworth/Morgan/Valley Regional boys’ swim team are in the midst of their first year with new Head Coach Steve Cusano. The Cougars’ featured a small roster of seven spirited swimmers. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
H-K sophomore Jack Ferguson took first place in the 200 freestyle and the 100 breaststroke when the Cougars competed against South Windsor in a virtual meet on Feb. 26. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Connor Levy and the Haddam-Killingworth/Morgan/Valley Regional boys’ swim team are in the midst of their first year with new Head Coach Steve Cusano. Levy is a junior at Morgan. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Egan Rothrock and the Haddam-Killingworth/Morgan/Valley Regional boys’ swim team are in the midst of their first year with new Head Coach Steve Cusano. Rothrock is a senior at Valley. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior Colby Kish and the Cougars feature a small roster of seven spirited swimmers this winter. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Sophomore Connor Schipritt is one of the up-and-coming athletes on the H-K co-op boys’ swim squad. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Nolan Braren is a sophomore on a Cougars’ co-op club that features swimmers from three different schools. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
The Haddam-Killingworth/Morgan/Valley Regional (H-K/M/VR) boys' swimming team only features seven athletes on its roster this season, but those seven swimmers are packing quite a mighty punch for the Cougars.
H-K/M/VR is in its first campaign with new Head Coach Steve Cusano. The Cougars' roster features senior captain Kyle Mazziotti, who goes to H-K; along with Valley Regional senior Egan Rothrock, Morgan junior Connor Levy, H-K junior Colby Kish, and H-K sophomores Jack Ferguson, Nolan Braren, and Conor Schipritt.
Mazziotti has been performing excellently for the team in its virtual meets this year. The senior captain has won every race in which he's competed, while also guiding the younger swimmers on the club.
In the Cougars' first meet of the season, Mazziotti took first place in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:14.89 and also won the 100 freestyle in 54.90 when the team faced Rocky Hill on Feb. 24.
Mazziotti also swam on the triumphant 200 medley relay team that included Rothrock, Ferguson, and Levy. The quartet recorded a time of 1:46.43 on its way to the victory.
Although H-K/M/VR has a small roster, Coach Cusano said that his team is making the most of its opportunity to compete this winter.
"If you look at the results from the last two weeks, you'll see that we're winning a lot of races. The only reason we're not getting the overall team wins is because we have no divers and aren't able to compete in every swim category with only seven guys," said Cusano. "It's tough, but these kids battle every single day they are in the pool with each other. We've got a great group."
On Feb. 26, the Cougars took on South Windsor for their second meet of the year. Mazziotti turned in another big performance by winning both the 50 freestyle (23.32) and the 100 backstroke (59.41) at the meet.
"Kyle is a year-round swimmer, and he competes for my club team, the Cougars Aquatic Team," Coach Cusano said. "He shows up and he makes hard work look light. He's easily one of our best swimmers, and it's a pleasure to coach him."
While the Cougars are seeing success in both relays and individual events, the lack of numbers on their roster is making it difficult for the team to post a big overall score. H-K/M/VR took an 89-65 loss to Rocky Hill in its first meet of the season and then dropped an 88-74 decision against South Windsor in its second contest.
"We're already short on swimmers as is and, the first two meets of the year, we had to compete with only six guys," said Cusano. "We don't necessarily care about the team results this year. We know we're not going to win many meets overall, because we simply don't have the numbers. It's OK, though. We get each other fired up, and we're all excited to be competing."
One of major differences that Coach Cusano has noticed this season is how quickly the team's meets are concluding. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, swim teams have been competing against each other virtually, and that is making the meets go faster.
"Because there's not multiple heats, the meets are going by so quickly. Our first meet finished in about 35 minutes, where a typical high school meet would go well over an hour," Cusano said. "The virtual status makes it really tough on the swimmers, because there's not a lot of time in between to rest."
In addition to Mazziotti, there are some other swimmers who are making waves for the Cougars in 2021. One of those athletes is Ferguson, a sophomore who goes to H-K. Ferguson claimed first place in both the 200 freestyle (1:56.48) and the 100 breaststroke (1:05.10) in the Cougars' meet versus Rocky Hill. In the South Windsor meet, Ferguson swam to a first-place finish in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:32.08.
"Jack is one of the most versatile kids in the program. He can swim any event for us," said Coach Cusano. "It's really cool to see Kyle and Jack interact, because they both keep each other very motivated. They both compete for the same club team, so they've spent a good amount of time in the pool together. They know how to get each other fired up."
Cusano also had high praise for Rothrock, a senior at Valley Regional; and Levy, a junior who goes to Morgan. Rothrock finished second in the 200 IM versus Rocky Hill by swimming a time of 2:21.14. Levy earned a first-place finish in the 500 freestyle with a 5:51.82.
"Egan is one of the hardest workers in practice. He's dropped somewhere around five or six seconds on several different events, and I'm happy to see his steady progression," Cusano said. "Connor has been just as good. All of these kids work really hard, and I'm proud of the work we've put in so far this season."
The Cougars' roster also includes junior Kish and sophomores Braren and Schipritt. All three of those athletes are students at H-K.
While his team may be short on numbers, Coach Cusano said the Cougars are displaying great ability in the pool this season. Cusano wants to build up the program as his tenure progresses.
"The big thing we have to stress is that we are a small program, but we have the talent," said Cusano. "It's going to be fun to see how we grow together."