By Michael James LeClair
The Nashoba Regional co-operative swim and dive team is considered an infant program in Central Massachusetts, but that doesn’t mean the Chieftains don’t feel they can’t compete every time they enter the water.
Nashoba is in its third year as a program and the first as a co-op team with Hudson High School and Marlborough High School. The team is a co-gender squad that competes in the Mid-Wach League with eight other area teams. Nashoba’s season schedule includes 10 regular season meets and wraps up with a league championship meet at the end of the season.
The roster of 29 includes 18 swimmers from Nashoba Regional including a trio of captains. Seniors Austin Tarullo and Steven Jiang along with junior Meredith Nash all lead the way for the Chieftains.
The team’s co-head coach, Kate MacDowell, recently took some time to talk about her squad.
“This is my third year with the program. I’ve been here since the beginning so I’ve seen the growth from the very first day,” said MacDowell, who teaches at Marlborough High School. “This year we have a very young team with some inexperienced swimmers. I’m not sure of the number of freshmen this year, but we have a lot of new freshmen and sophomores.”
MacDowell and Carly White are this year’s co-head coaches guiding the Chieftains. Both have been at the helm since the birth of the varsity program.
Despite the team’s current 0-6 overall record, both coach and athletes alike feel the team is heading in the right direction.
“We’ve had an incredible growing year this year. All of our men’s records have been broken and all but two of our female records and diving records have been broken,” said MacDowell. “It’s definitely been our best year yet as a varsity team.”
Prior to becoming a varsity program three years ago, the Chieftains were a club team for two years before MacDowell came on board.
“We have a lot of new faces on the team this year, some of them have experience and some of them don’t,” said Bolton student Tarullo on Monday, January 5 prior to his team’s meet against host Leominster at the Fitchburg State University Recreation Center. “Despite that, this group is excited and is working to get better every day.”
The Chieftains dropped a tough 88-82 decision to Leominster on Monday.
Jiang echoed Tarullo’s words when asked about the direction this year’s team is headed. “With this being the first year we’re a co-op program, we have a lot more kids and that means some less experienced swimmers,” said Jiang. “The older swimmers have really tried to take the younger guys under our wing and work with them. I think it’s been going well.”
On Wednesday, January 7 the Chieftains lost to host Tantasqua Regional by a score of 110-66. Jiang took first in the 100 breast stroke with a time of 1:10.56. Tim St. Denis took first in the 1M diving with a score of 180.00, setting a program record for boys. The girls 200 Medley Relay of Samantha Cirillo (Hudson), Emma Sullivan (Nashoba), Meg Haberle (Nashoba), and Amanda Vilensky (Marlborough) broke the previous girls school record of 2:10.83. Gillian Campbell broke the girls 200 Free record with a time a 2:20.35 and the girls 500 free record with a time of 6:30.72.
“We haven’t won a meet yet this year, but I feel we’ve grown as a team. I really do,” said Meredith Nash. “I think it’s been great seeing how much each and every one on this team has improved from the start of the season.”
The squad returns to action on Wednesday when it will travel to Worcester to take part in a dual meet with Worcester and Northbridge.
“Of course we want to try to improve our overall record, but our biggest goal is to look to improve within,” said MacDowell. “We’re always looking to improve our personal times and to compete within the league each year. Our goal is to try and get as many kids to qualify and compete in this year’s league meet at the end of the season.”