Starting this fall, high school students in the New Haven Public School system will have a new way to stay active through interscholastic competition.
Female students at any New Haven high school can now sign up to be a part of the East Haven/New Haven Swim Team, a co-op swim program involving the two cities. Whereas other cities in the region have had school swim teams for years, New Haven had not had one in recent time, according to team head coach David Oshada, who is a science teacher at West Haven High School. This summer, the East Haven and New Haven Boards of Education collaborated to officially approve the team for the 2016–17 school year.
“New Haven schools have needed a swim program for some time now, and this co-op relationship will allow student-athletes the opportunity to join such a team,” Oshana said.
As of now, 10 girls have joined the team. Oshana said he hoped to have four more sign up by the end of the week, as schools in New Haven have just now started its classes.
Anthony Verderame, athletic director for East Haven, said that the participation rate right now in the team is split almost evenly between East Haven students and students at New Haven’s Wilbur Cross High School. Practices are held at the East Haven location, though Verderame said the team hoped to host a home meet at Wilbur Cross at some point this year.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for both schools to work cooperatively within an education-based athletics program,” Verderame said. “Both schools bring a tremendous amount of positive energy and spirit to the program.”
East Haven has always had a swim team, whereas Wilbur Cross students are being introduced to the sport now. This difference in experience level has not been a problem for Oshana, who said that it has been great to both coach “newer swimmers,” as well as help experienced athletes reach their personal goals.
“If we had started a Cross team from scratch, everyone would be learning the ropes while trying to compete,” Wilbur Cross junior and new swim team member Laura Rosado said. “This way, we have girls who have been swimming in high school for three years mixed with girls like me, who might only have club team experience.”
Rosado praised the creation of the co-op team, as she has been swimming for nearly seven years with the Omni Swim Club — based at Payne Whitney Gymnasium — but has never been able to swim for her school.
Currently, practices are designed to help student-athletes reach personal bests, as well as teach them the fundamentals of different strokes and starts, turns and finishes, Oshana said.
The team is scheduled to participate in 11 meets this fall. The swimmers will travel as far as Shelton and Branford to compete.