Jonathan Chatinover, fourth-year coach of the MVRHS boys and girls swim teams, has seen the former club sport earn its spot in high school swimming after just four years as a MVRHS varsity sport. This year they will be competing at the Division 2 level in the Eastern Athletic Conference, a new conference for the team.
Living in a place surrounded by water would appear to be an answer to the team’s success, but a first-class facility and development of the Makos feeder swimming program at the YMCA are more likely answers.
“We are still in our infancy, and the Makos are critical to our program,” said Coach Chatinover.
Though low numbers of athletes have been an issue for the startup varsity sport, Vineyarder senior Renee Goodale and junior Lia Potter have twice advanced to state tournament competition during these early, years and in 2016, other MVRHS swimmers may be ready for the Big Pool.
“We’re swimming against a lot of schools we’ve never swum against,” Coach Chatinover said. “It’ll be interesting to see how we do. Generally we lose, but we historically swim against teams much better than us, with larger numbers.”
Nantucket, for example, has a long and storied swim-team tradition, and they bring numbers. “At a recent Makos meet at the Y, Nantucket bought 67 girls for just the 11- and 12-year-old events. They’ll bring 30 girls and 20 boys to a high school meet, ” Coach Chatinover said.
Numbers are important in swimming, because in any given event of an 11-event meet, six swimmers from each team compete, with the top five scores counted. Last December, MVRHS athletic director Mark McCarthy signed a two-year cooperative agreement with the Island’s Charter School that allowed Charter School high school students to join the MVRHS squad, which was then comprised of 15 girls and 11 boys.
“We’ll have at least 20 girls and close to 10 boys this season. Two boys freestylers, Evan Sauter and Harrison Dorr, are hoping to qualify for sectionals,” he said. As a successful four-year swimmer, Ms. Goodale is the grande dame of MVRHS varsity swimming, but Coach Chatinover indicated that more talent is developing, including sophomore Charlotte Rooney.
He also pays attention to the Makos, and sees a bright future. “There are a couple of seventh and eighth grade girls who could set school varsity records right now,” he said. “Starting early is the key. Getting kids involved with swimming is good, because if they participate, they will swim right away and make a contribution to their team right away. A great aspect of swim competition is that kids see the results of hard work right away. They can see their times improve.”
The swimmers begin their fifth varsity season on Dec. 15 at 3:15 pm with a home meet against New Bedford High School.