Cohen Making an Impact In and Out of the Pool for GNH Swimming
Aiden Cohen and the Greater New Haven (GNH) Warriors co-op swimming and diving team started their season on Dec. 1. Their first meet was on Dec. 19 against the Notre Dame/West Haven co-op team. The Warriors won the meet with a final score of 97-69.
The Warriors are coached by Mike O’Brien, who has been coaching the team for two years. The Warriors have athletes from Guilford, North Haven, East Haven, Branford, and North Branford.
Aiden, who is one of the captains and a Guilford native, has been a part of the team for the entirety of his high school career and competes in mostly freestyle events.
“Typically, I focus on freestyle events, ranging from the 50-yard freestyle to the 500-yard freestyle. I also mix in other strokes when I am able, typically butterfly and backstroke,” says Aiden. “I also usually compete within our team relays and have a ton of fun racing these together with some of my closest friends.”
It is still early in the season for the GNH Warriors, as they have only competed in two meets thus far in the season. Coach O’Brien talks about how Aiden leads the team and what it has been like in the two years he has been coaching him.
“Aiden is a great leader with motivation, especially with some of the inexperienced teammates,” says Coach O’Brien. “He also leads by example, being one of the hardest workers in the pool.”
Aiden has his priorities set straight, with swimming being at the top, both mentally and physically. He talks about his personal experience diving into the cold pool each day throughout his high school career.
“I feel a sense of reward and completion after I have made it through a hard workout or long race with my friends,” says Aiden. “The mental aspect of swimming is something that just can’t be found in many other sports, and I love that I can find quiet but also work hard and grow when I put my head under the water’s surface.”
Last year, Aiden ended his season by being a big part of the championships for the Warriors, reaching several accolades. He was in the top 16 for the 50 and 100 free individual events, Class LL champion member in the 200 free relay, and placed third in the 400 free relay. Because he is such a decorated athlete, Coach O’Brien has high expectations for Aiden this season.
“Primarily, Aiden swims the 50 and 100 freestyle, but I move him around a lot, as he can swim pretty much anything. I also rotate him through each of the relays [200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 400 free relay],” says Coach O’Brien. “With the efforts he puts out in practice, I expect him to place Top 8 individually in both events, hopefully, All-State [Top 3]. Collectively, I expect him to lead his two relays as well.”
Aiden is also a member of the Soundview Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Stingrays, where he swims year-round. When he is not swimming, Aiden enjoys hobbies, including playing tennis and going snowboarding. Coach O’Brien talks about his involvement with the school band, as well as a few other things that interest Aiden.
“He also is a member of the wind ensemble at GHS, playing alto saxophone, is Vice President of his class, and participates in Leadership Congress,” Coach O’Brien says. “He lifeguards in the summer and is a camp counselor, and works as a baker at his family business, Cohen’s Bagel Co.”
Aiden hopes to help lead the Warriors both in and out of the pool in his last season with the team.
“I try my best to lead the team in and out of the pool. When we’re in the water, I always try to push the boys around me in the lane and help them achieve the times and goals that I know they can reach,” says Aiden. “Outside of the pool, I joke around with them and help create better bonds between our team members.”
With any sport, there are challenges that each athlete is faced with throughout their campaign. For Aiden, that is not having a captain above him this season that he can look up to.
“I think the most challenging part for me this year is going into the season without another captain to lead me but having to provide that leadership myself,” says Aiden. “Many great captains and even greater friends have led the team before me, and it’s hard to try to fill the shoes of people that you look up to so much.”
This year, the Warriors moved from the Class LL division to now the Class L division. Coach O’Brien talks about that transition and what Aiden may be challenged with.
“I think the most challenging thing for Aiden this season will be swimming Class L championships against some athletes he hasn’t raced against in the past,” says Coach O’Brien.
Aiden may have achieved many accomplishments already throughout his time as a Warrior, but he still has a variety of team and personal goals.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how this 2022-2023 team performs. In the past, we’ve had a great track record, and I know this team can do great things when we set our minds to it and do the necessary preparations in the water,” says Aiden. “This year, we have many new teammates joining that haven’t been a part of GNH before. I hope that I will be able to make them feel at home with the GNH crew and successfully lead them to the heights that they want to reach as swimmers this season.”