Break gives Hawks opportunity to train

Woodland’s Greg Aldrich, pictured during a meet versus Northwestern on Dec. 21, and Jake Stow have qualified for the Class S state swim meet. –FILE PHOTO

BEACON FALLS — An 11-day break between the Woodland boys swim team’s final two meets of the regular season was just what the doctor ordered for coach Tom Currier and the Hawks.

“It’s actually pretty nice,” Currier said. “We have a just week just to train and get us ready for the end of the year.”

Woodland’s most recent meet was Feb. 2 against Holy Cross. The Hawks have been hard at work since then, and they won’t reenter dual-meet action until Tuesday’s regular-season finale against Naugatuck.

The layoff has been beneficial for the squad, Currier said. He said the Hawks are already approaching their personal-best times from the championship season last year, and the Naugatuck Valley League championships are still three weeks away.

“They’re doing awesome,” Currier said. “I was looking at best times from last year, and they’re right on them (now). They’re right on their shave- and taper-times, so they’re right where I want them. Our big guys are right there for what they did at states last year already.”

Two Woodland swimmers have already qualified for the state championship meet. Greg Aldrich, whom Currier calls the Hawks’ “big dog,” has qualified in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 breaststroke, while Jake Stow has qualified in the 100 backstroke. Jeff Varesio is also “knocking on the door” and Chase Chura “will keep dropping times,” Currier said.

That group of swimmers has been crucial for the Hawks during the dual-meet season to keep the team competitive against other squads.

“It’s great. They’re reliable,” Currier said. “I have a solid five kids who pull their weight every meet. They’re competitors, so they push and they go for it. It’s great to have somebody who’s going to give it their all. I can’t wait to see what they do at the end of the year.”

But it’s been more than just the upperclassmen who have made impacts this winter. Currier cited the growth of his half-dozen freshmen.

“We’re still a small team, so there’s plenty of room for them (in meets),” Currier said. “Pat Zieba is doing great in the backstroke and Cameron Heeman keeps dropping times in the 500 (free). I put him in because he has a great attitude, and he keeps dropping times.”

Together, the team of fewer than 20 swimmers has forged a tight team with an atmosphere of improvement that makes it fun for Currier and the Hawks to come to practice every day.

“The team is wonderful,” Currier said. “They’re fun and goofy, just like you want. They work hard when they need to and they have fun in between. They’re very close-knit. They’re just fun. Even the freshmen have fit right in.”

Woodland will finish the regular season with its senior night meet against Naugatuck on Tuesday. The NVL trials will be next on the Hawks’ radar, set for Feb. 27 at Kennedy.