The Milford Scarlet Hawks’ varsity girls’ swimming team has had a slow start this season, but the girls won’t let their 1-4 record get the best of them, as they know the best is yet to come. [Editor's Note: the record doesn't include a meet against Bishop Feenan]
“The season has gone great so far and we have gone against really good teams, but we have meets to come where we should be able to bring our record up,” said senior captain Leah Kosteva. “We’ve qualified in many events in states and sectionals and I’m proud of the younger girls, as they’ve all qualified in an event for states and sectionals as well.”
The Hawks against some tough competition including: St. Peter-Marian (non-league win for the Hawks), Westwood High School, Seekonk High School, Notre Dame Academy and Ursuline Academy. Though the Hawks have been competitive, they haven’t been able to beat some of these better teams in the division, but head swim coach Dave Chaplin says that it’s only a matter of time before the girls hit their stride.
“We’re just trying to get through establishing our identity at this time, getting our best times and working toward our lineup and when we get through this, after Tuesday, we’ll be poised for a stretch run where we very well could run the table,” he said. “We’ll do well because we are a very good team. We’re working hard, we've got talent and we’ve qualified all of our relay teams for the State Championships and qualified in individual races already.”
The Hawks’ schedule will get easier as they hit the midway point of the season, but Chaplin explained that there are pros and cons to playing the tougher competition early in the season, as opposed to later on. “We’re able to give them quality competition in other events and in that last six-meet stretch — where we are going to settle into a lineup — they would have already had their opportunity [to swim certain events],” he said. “Individually and team development-wise against the first half of the schedule is helpful, but it takes some mental toughness to get through it. We benefit from that competition, but it’s hard to keep them focused. But they have seemed to have that and understand it and as we move on, it will pay dividends.”
Milford has a young squad once again, but that’s quite all right, as it is the younger swimmers that are leading the way for the Hawks in the point category during the meets this season.
Returning sophomore Maddy Garber has had a big impact on the team again as she has already qualified for three races at this point in the season: the 100 breaststroke, the 100 freestyle and the 100 individual medley. Freshman Abby Kline has splashed on to the scene for Chaplin as well, qualifying for the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly. Other strong underclassman this year have been freshmen Samantha Cosquete and Allie Piergustavo and sophomores Christina Cosquete, Justine Murdocca and Angela Sabo.
“Usually in swimming, you get better as you get older,” said captain Jodie Martin. “But this year we’ve had a lot of younger girls that have been better than the upperclassman and they have brought a lot to the team, even if they’re not the best swimmers.”
While the younger swimmers are relied on for points, the upperclassmen are relied on for leadership. “The seniors are our leadership. They’ve done a good job keeping us focused because they are the ones that know how tough it is,” said Chaplin. “They’ve kept the social and spirit part of it very high and that’s hard to do. They’re not the point scorers, but they’re the moral providers.”
The Hawks have five senior captains this year in diver Juliana Sheehan — who will look to qualify at the Sectionals and States this season; Katelyn Johnson — relay swimmer on the B and C relays and C entry in the breaststroke; Gloria Lima — a C entry in the 200 and 500 distance freestyle; Kosteva — a backstroke swimmer; and Martin — a C entry swimmer in the backstroke and B and C relays when needed.
“We’ve all come together a lot over the past few years,” said Johnson. “We’ve had a lot of distance between us because of the groups that we’re in at school, but we’re definitely very good friends now.”
Lima echoes Johnson’s words. “There have always been ups and downs, but by the end of the season we seem closer than we ever were before,” she said. “This year we’re hoping to be as close as possible since all the captains are in different lanes [this season], so we try to connect with each other as much as we can. Thank God for pasta dinners.”
Despite their current record, the Hawks remain focused and ready to take what they have learned from the first half of the season and put it to good use in the second half. “We are thrilled to death with the progress we’re making, our times are coming down, our splits are getting better and our focus is remaining on what’s in our control,” said Chaplin.
The Hawks will start the second half of their season on Thursday at New Bedford.