NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys swim team has been knocking on the door of an NVL championship the past two seasons, finishing as runner-ups two years in a row.
“If you want to be successful you need to work at it and fail,” said Naugatuck swim coach Jim McKee, a three-time Connecticut swim coach of the year. “You need to work at it some more and fail again. Until you reach the point where you get to the place you’ve never been.”
The Greyhounds graduated 11 seniors but return a host of swimmers who are more than eager to continue that journey.
Naugatuck will be led by senior captains Sammy Ayash, Zach Alves, Elliott Dupont and Brian Goggin.
“We are not concerned with the rest of the teams in the NVL,” Alves said. “We are more concerned about our team and what we can control. If we listen to our coach and follow his direction where we can go is endless.”
Naugy graduated three top swimmers in Evan Bombery (2nd NVL 200 and 500), Omar Solomon (3rd NVL backstroke) and P.J. Morrissey. The ‘Hounds also lost their top two divers in Eric Cruz (3rd NVL) and Grady Beasley (5th NVL).
“The last two years we lost a lot of talent,” McKee said. “We had our chance at the NVL and that is all we are looking for, a chance, the opportunity. We have 43 kids on the roster and we have some rebuilding to do. It all comes down to who has the will to come back.”
“We should be all right in diving,” McKee added. “Jessie Cyr is a three-time state champion and a state open champion for Naugatuck, and he is usually drill-orientated teaching our divers. We have a junior, Logan Martin, a first-time diver, who will be knocking at the door when the NVLs arrive.”
The coach also mentioned the continued development of senior Cameron Litwinka, juniors Austin Herb and Dale Wakeley, and sophomores Alex Manasoiu and Spencer Maher.
“These are swimmers that will help us to succeed,” McKee said. “We will have some kids swim official and some exhibition, but I won’t put anyone in who can’t flip and turn. You won’t beat anyone if you can’t flip and turn. If you want to improve on your time, it starts there. Diving in, the flip and turn, these are the little things that become bigger things and now you are cutting seconds off your time.”
The depth and leadership of the Greyhounds continues with seniors Danilo Assis, Jeremy Raupach, Matt Raupach, Erin Doris, Macie Best, James DeBisschop and Ben Wierzbicki.
Junior Jonathon Lauer, sophomore Nelson Lavoura and freshman Mike Hill are also swimmers who can make an impact.
“Hill came from the middle school program and I think he can help us,” McKee said. “There are a lot of swimmers who in the next two years will be swimming at the NVLs. If they work hard and put the time in they can go where they never been.”
The Greyhounds begin the season Dec. 19 at 4 p.m. at home against Watertown. They will take on state powerhouse Glastonbury on Dec. 21.
“My job is to get these kids into the position that by the time the NVLs come around they can be there with the opportunity to succeed,” McKee said. “Everything we do along the way is preparation for that moment.”