Staples winter preview: Boys swimming reloads with new faces
Published 3:39 pm, Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Faced with the daunting task of replacing a host of talented seniors that graduated from the team, Staples boys swim coach Frisk Driscoll took a look at the pool and a host of talented young athletes in it.
With the current potential and the increased strength of the program, Driscoll realized that almost as fast as standouts leave the group, new faces come in looking to keep the tradition of a top-five FCIAC team alive and going.
“We’re very lucky in a sense when you lose a senior class, you hear the term rebuild,” Driscoll said. “While we’re not reloading, we’re pretty darn close. We’re a lot closer to reload than rebuild, which is nice. I’ve think we’ve done something right, and the Staples community is recognizing that.”
One event that this rings true the most is the 500 freestyle. Before graduated senior Daniel Williams it was Northwestern sophomore Jonathan Blansfield. Now, sophomore Nico Ortega — coming off an excellent freshman season that included an eighth-placed at the Class LL meet last March — is ready to take the next leap into one of the top distance swimmers in the state.
“We’ve picked up where we left off in the distance freestyle events,” Driscoll said. “Nico placed well at FCIACs and states last year as a freshman. He already got significantly faster this year, compared to what got at states.”
A new crop of freshman have entered the program with bounds of potential, according to Driscoll, who has worked with several of them in his role as a coach for the Westport-based Family Y Water Rats youth program.
“I’ve worked with a handful of them,” Driscoll said. “They’re lucky enough to get indoctrinated to what we do at Staples. Everybody knows each other; it’s a good sense of family and that helps this team year in and year out.”
The Wreckers will be captained by Harrison Knapp (IM and backstroke), Mark Schachter (freestyle sprints, butterfly) and Simon Ginsberg (IM and backstroke). All are in position to score at the FCIAC and state level.
“Harrison is a real leader in every sense of the word,” Driscoll said. “He leads by actions and his words. “He loves to work hard and that energy is contagions to his teammates.”
Unlike many of his competitors, Knapp isn’t a year-round swimmer and proof of what an athlete can be even if his interests aren’t narrow, according to Driscoll.
“The results he has shows you don’t have to drop all your other interests and commit to swimming, as long when you’re committed to something, you’re all in on it,” Driscoll said. “I think a lot of people really respect the path that he has taken to get where he is today.”
Staples placed fourth in the FCIAC, fifth at Class LL and eighth at the State Open a year ago to remain one of the most consistent programs in Connecticut. Despite the changing faces, the goal remains the same this winter.
“We’d like to think we’re a top 5 FCIAC team,” Driscoll said. “Funny enough I think we’re even an higher (Class LL) state team, which shows how tough the FCIAC is. The jury is still out but I think we can be a top 10 team again (at the State Open).”