BEACON FALLS — The week leading up to the Naugatuck Valley League boys swimming championships is an exciting one for Woodland.
“They’re pumped and their energy is increasing,” Hawks coach Tom Currier said. “We’re starting to fine-tune things.”
The months leading up to the championships, which run throughout next week at Kennedy High, are used for different purposes in training. Strength and speed alternate importance at different times during the year, but the week before NVLs is all about prepping.
“Yardage comes down but intensity stays the same,” Currier said. “We really start focusing on the races they’re going to be swimming at NVLs and states.”
Swim trials will be March 4 and swim finals will be March 7. Diving finals will be March 5, but the Hawks have no divers on their roster.
Woodland concluded its dual-meet schedule last Thursday at home against Masuk. The Panthers took a 92-68 victory, but several Hawks took first-place finishes. They included Andy O’Dell (200-yard freestyle, 100 butterfly), Aidan Music (200 IM), Donovan White (100 breaststroke) and the 400 free relay team (O’Dell, Jimmy Jensen, JD Dyckman, Alan Katrenya).
That meet was also the team’s senior night. The Hawks honored O’Dell, Katrenya, Brian Smith and Lauren Tompkins — nearly a third of the 13-member squad. Saying a symbolic goodbye wasn’t easy for Currier.
“It was sad, but that’s the name of the game,” Currier said. “It’s almost like my kids are growing up and getting older. I’ll shed a tear, but that’s how it goes. I’m proud of watching them turn into the kids they are, in and out of the pool.”
O’Dell may have the best chance of any Woodland swimmer to win an event at the NVL meet, Currier said. He is a two-time All-NVL swimmer and the only athlete on the Hawks’ roster to have that award on the résumé.
“It’s possible,” Currier said of O’Dell’s gold-medal chances. “There are fast kids out there, so it all depends on how he does.”
Music, Katrenya, Jensen, White and Dyckman could also be in the mix in individual events and relays. Other swimmers include Jordan Baer, Patrick Conway, Meredith Dyckman, Julie Hinckley and Thomas Landry-Mickett.
With Woodland’s small roster, contending for the league championship is likely not an option. That doesn’t mean the Hawks haven’t set goals for the competition.
“We just want best times for everybody,” Currier said. “If everybody does their best times, however we fall in the pecking order is what it is. We’re shooting for a few (school) records.”
There’s one more standard Currier wants his team to meet — one that just might happen.
“My goal is to be the smallest, loudest team there,” Currier said with a wide smile. “That’s the goal: for everyone to be cheering on each other.”