This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published September 20, 2018
The East Haven-Wilbur Cross co-op girls’ swimming and diving team has a new leader on the pool deck as it begins the 2018 season. The Yellowjackets’ new head coach is Leanne Boisvert, who also teaches English at East Haven High School.
Leanne competed for the girls’ swim team at Newington High School, before graduating in 2011. Leanne has a lot of positive memories from her time swimming for Newington. She wants to provide a similar experience for her athletes as head coach of the Easties.
“For me, when I was on a swim team, it completely changed high school for me. I became a part of a completely different community than I set out to be in,” says Leanne, who still lives in Newington. “It’s a home away from home, and that kind of camaraderie and rapport you build with other kids in your school changes your outlook on education and what it means to really be a family.”
After working in East Haven as a part of her internship during graduate school, Leanne feels thrilled to be a full-time member of the teaching and coaching communities in town. Leanne has brought in fellow former Newington swimmer, Arayana Bracken, to be her assistant coach with the Yellowjackets.
“I did my internship with the middle school here, and I really loved the community, so I wanted to apply at the high school and see if I had a shot, and they hired me,” Leanne says. “Arayana is a Newington swim alum, and the two of us had the same coaches and have the same work ethic when it comes to training our girls. We want to give them the best possible outcome.”
While Leanne is still in the early stages of her tenure at East Haven, Athletic Director Anthony Verderame says that he really likes what he’s seeing from her thus far.
“Leanne has been a tremendous addition to our coaching community. Leanne’s knowledge and background in swimming has been noticeable and appreciated from day one,” Verderame says. “Her energy, passion, and commitment to her student-athletes is without question one of the most visible I have ever seen. I am confident Coach Boisvert will bring our swim team to the next level.”
Leanne swam throughout middle school and high school and even became a junior lifeguard. She achieved her greatest success in the sprinting events and was typically the anchor for her relays. Leanne is new to the coaching life, but she says she’s ready for the challenge.
“I think one of the hardest things to really work with is the fact that, even if I get into the water and I show them how to do a stroke, it’s all about each individual person being able to figure out the way their muscles are supposed to move,” says Leanne. “It’s difficult to explain how a stroke is supposed to be elongated sometimes, if you have kids that are new to the sport.”
Leanne had some anxiety during her first meet coaching the Easties, saying that she “felt like I was a kid all over again right before the big meet.” Leanne notes that the experience brought back the competitive spirit she had as a swimmer, and she was pleased to see that same spirit from her athletes.
“I went in, pumped them all up, and made sure we had our songs and chants ready for the meet. I wanted to be on the deck and timing the girls, so they knew we were fighting for points and getting every second we deserve,” Leanne says. “I’m now seeing everything from a coach’s perspective, rather than an athlete’s perspective, so it’s helping me appreciate everything my coaches did for me when I was on a team. It’s really a learning experience for me to be on the other end, and it’s very rewarding to see the kids’ faces light up when they’re cutting down on their times.”
As she steps into her new position, one of the most important things for Leanne is that there’s a strong bond on her squad. Leanne swam for a tight-knit team at Newington and wants to foster chemistry among the athletes who hail from East Haven and New Haven.
“One of the things I’m so happy I’ve already been able to do is bring together our New Haven girls and East Haven girls. Right after our Saturday practice, I had the girls all go out and have breakfast together,” she says. “I want them working together and getting to know each other outside the pool, not just when in the water. They’re learning more about each other, rather than just names and events they do.”
Leanne understands that it takes time to develop a program and is looking to grow the number of athletes who compete for the Yellowjackets. Leanne is bringing plenty of passion to the pool as she tries to build East Haven into a team that can succeed in the SCC.
“One of the things I’ve started doing is recruiting my own students. I really want to build the team up to a large enough number where we can become competitive within our area. I know in the past, they’ve had groups of about 11 girls, and that can be taxing on them when they’re in the water and have to do four events in a meet, especially when they’re back to back,” says Leanne. “This allows me to fall in love with the sport all over again, so my goal is to keep building the team to get a strong group of 30 or 40 girls that want to work with one another to train and put East Haven on the map in regards to swimming.”