Short-rostered Shelton boys have talented swimmers in place to succeed

Carson Rhodes and Korey Barber are Shelton High boy's swim captains.

Carson Rhodes and Korey Barber are Shelton High boy’s swim captains.

Shelton High Athletics / Contributed photo

Shelton boys swim coach Tom Jurzynski believes that what could be perceived as a disadvantage may be a strongpoint.

“Having a smaller roster here with the boys helps because we are limited to 15 kids in the pool at a time. We only have 12 so we can expand our practice time.,” he said. “Teams like a Pomperaug they may have 50 kids and have to spread the practice time around. We can stay close to our normal schedule.

“We have a lot of guys that are versatile and that helps me move them around. We don’t have guys that are blocked into one spot. Having 12 may help a little bit by having guys I can move around a lot.”

The Gaels graduated seven seniors, so it is all hands-on deck.

“Everyone is going to have to do four events this year. We usually are in between 16 and 20 kids and can hold off and have kids fill in at spots,” Jurzynski said. “The talent level on the team is not an issue. I’m happy with how we are swimming.”

Korey Barber and Carson Rhodes are senior team captains.

“Carson is a sprint freestyler and swims the breaststroke while Korey can do everything. His two best events are butterfly and backstroke,” Jurzynski said of the tandem who are part of Shelton’s record-holding 200-freestyle relay team which will include Ben Van Tine (senior) and Jai Goel (junior).

“Depending on what relays we decide to go with Brendan Smith (senior) and Ryan Ouloul (sophomore) will compete in relays as well. Brendan swims the breaststroke. Ryan is a sprint freestyler and swims the backstroke.

“Denis Borta, a sophomore, is a sprint freestyler. Van Time is a sprint freestyler. Ben Rhodes (butterfly and breaststroke) is a sophomore and is another guy who can get points for us and can race in our second relay.”

The Gaels have brought three freshmen into the program.

“Jan Vincent Caccam is a new swimmer. His brother Rajan was a captain for us (2019) and is doing well in practice,” Jurzynski said. “Jason Kim and Jack Parkes are club swimmers and have a lot of experience coming in. But this is their first time doing this full time. In the past they would swim two or three days and they are doing a great job adjusting to the change. They will be a big help to us this year.”

Olivia D’Addio and Ella Cristiano are team managers.

Jurzynski had to alter his practice regimen.

“Our meets will be virtual, so you don’t have the other team in the pool with you. You are basically swimming against yourself, so I designed practice to get us ready for that. We are doing a lot of racing,” he said. “Our captains were managers on the girls’ team, so they saw how it worked in the fall season. They explained to our team what they need to do.”

Preparation had other challenges.

“They guys haven’t been in the water for 10 months. It was tough to get everyone ready because we didn’t find out until four days before our first practice that there would be a season,” Jurzynski said. “And with club and lap restrictions not everyone was ready to go right away. I realize we are in the same boat as everyone else when it comes to that. Kids can usually swim club is the offseason or have lap swimming at the community center, but that was restricted as well.”

The first meet will be Friday.

“Our first meet was scheduled for last Friday, with all the snow days I moved it to this Friday,” Jurzynski said. “We are going to swim against North Haven, Notre Dame and Amity virtually on Friday. Our season is more compact this year than it’s ever been. It’s like an 8-week season and we usually have 13. The goal is still the same you want to keep getting faster by the end of the year.

“They have done very well in practice and I can’t wait to see how they do in meets. The boys are just happy to be back in the pool and are working hard every day. We'll take advantage of the opportunity given to us.”

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