NAUGATUCK — Earlier this season, Naugatuck boys swimming head coach Jim McKee took a chance on some of the team’s inexperienced varsity swimmers.
In the meet against Glastonbury on Dec. 20, McKee looked to a trio of young swimmers and asked them to try the challenging 500-yard freestyle event. While many younger swimmers might be intimidated to attempt it, freshmen Graden Beasley and Benjamin Rossi, along with sophomore Jensen Mezzio, embraced it.
“I didn’t want to put them out there in the 500 and have them be tempted not to come back again,” McKee said with a chuckle. “They jumped in and they loved it.”
Beasley and Rossi have dropped more than a minute in their 500 times, and they have been two examples of pleasant surprises that have given Naugy points in events that were not expected in the preseason.
This combination of enthusiasm and effort has given the Greyhounds much-needed, yet unexpected depth to compete in the Naugatuck Valley League.
While Naugy continues to receive many positive contributions from its upperclassmen, its younger swimmers have given the ‘Hounds extra points.
“We have a good group of freshmen and sophomores,” McKee said. “They’re becoming very, very good.”
Freshman Omari Solomon, who came to high school with middle school and club experience, has made an immediate impact. In Tuesday’s meet against Seymour, Solomon joined three seniors — Adam Branco, Dan Caccillo and John Dean — in a first-place finish in the 200 medley relay.
Naugy won the meet 83-79. There were more examples of youngsters stepping up.
Evan Bomberry, another freshman, came up with big points in a victory over Holy Cross last month. Bomberry, who competed in the 50 and 100 free, extended himself in the 200 and gave Naugy a boost in a 91-89 victory.
Bomberry’s time against Holy Cross on Jan. 9 was 2 minutes, 14.52 seconds. Two weeks later against Sacred Heart, his time improved to 2:08.10.
McKee said other freshmen have developed, including Eric Cruz, Matt Goggin, Peter Morrissey, David Ruela, Robert Spino, Brandon Thomas and Alexio Valente. Many have dropped times in a variety of events, including the individual medley.
“When you make your drops and you hold your drops, and it comes in different strokes, it verifies what you’re doing,” McKee said.
Naugy improved to 4-4 overall with the win over Seymour earlier this week. The Greyhounds, who are finally able to practice in their own pool, will continue their all-away meet schedule Saturday at Torrington. They will take on Cheshire at Central Connecticut State University on Tuesday.