Pool deck reunion for long-time counterparts

When Shelton High played host to Seymour High at Shelton Community Center, the inter-league meet served as a reunion for two of the coaches and two of the swimmers involved.

Shelton head coach Tom Jurzynski coaches with Seymour assistant coach Nick Blade on the Woodbridge Aquatic Club team; both are assistants. Jurzynski has coached there in the offseason since 2009 and Blade, a former coach at St. Joseph High in Trumbull, joined the staff this season.

The club team coaches and high school counterparts go back a long way. Blade is a former swimmer of his when Jurzynski coached youth swimming in Seymour.

“I had to work hard. He pushed me,” Blade said. “With swimming it’s the harder you work the better you get.”

Blade’s hard work paid off as he went on to swim at Southern Connecticut State University. Blade raced in the 200 and 500 yard freestyle events in high school and went on to swim the 400 individual medley, 200 butterfly and mile events at the collegiate level.

“Nick is very goal-driven. He works hard at what he does,” said Jurzynski, who swam at Woodbridge Aquatic Club as well as at Holy Cross High School.

Jurzynski, as a result of his team’s 98-66 win over Seymour, is working Blade hard at the pool once again. Only this time, it’s not in the water — but on the pool deck.

The coaches had a little fun with their matchup, with an agreement that whichever coach’s team came out on the losing end had to put in a little extra effort at this past week’s club team practice.

The coaches move end to end to clock swimmers in practice and, this week, Blade was on his own to monitor swimmers in the middle lanes. He added a few more steps and some extra hustle to get to the end of those lanes with each lap.

Usually, the coaches share in these duties, but Jurzynski was rewarded with the easier job of monitoring the outside lanes.

“The middle lanes are tough because you’ve got to get their times at each end,” Jurzynski said. “Nick’s got a lot of walking to do this week.”

Jack Crocamo is Seymour’s lone swimmer that also competes with the Woodbridge club team. Crocamo said of Jurzynski, “ He is a coach who expects a lot of concentration on the part of his team members. You have to be fully-engaged, because of the work we do every single day. He gives us feedback on what we’re doing. He tells us that, ‘Even on a bad day you’ve got to be able to find a way to get the best out of what you have, and find a way to get better.”

Seymour High’s Alex Cupic swims for the Shelton Rapids club team so this was a return to his second-most familiar pool.

“It’s just like being at home,” said Cupic, who finds a slight advantage. “Just mentally...You feel more familiar with it.”