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Sophomore Hethon Foster helped the Greater New Haven Warriors co-op boys’ swimming and diving squad achieve a tremendous amount of success during the team’s inaugural season this winter. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior captain Tanner Powell helped the Greater New Haven Warriors co-op boys’ swimming and diving squad achieve a tremendous amount of success during the team’s inaugural season this winter. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Stephen Borrelli and the Greater New Haven Warriors notched eight victories and won their division title in the 2019-’20 season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior Connor Coyne helped the Greater New Haven Warriors co-op boys’ swimming and diving squad achieve a tremendous amount of success during the team’s inaugural season this winter. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Freshman Patrick Cucchiarelli and the Greater New Haven Warriors notched eight victories and won their division title in the 2019-’20 season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Aidan Henry helped the Greater New Haven Warriors co-op boys’ swimming and diving squad achieve a tremendous amount of success during the team’s inaugural season this winter. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior captain Dan Kamen and the Greater New Haven Warriors notched eight victories and won their division title in the 2019-’20 season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Sophomore Finn Henry had a great sophomore season for the Warriors and will return as one of the team’s top swimmers next year. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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A few days after the SCC Championship, Aidan Henry gave a speech on behalf of the Greater New Haven (GNH) Warriors’ boys’ swimming and diving team when North Haven High School held its annual boys’ sports banquet. A senior captain, Henry stepped to the podium and delivered a passionate speech in which he expressed how proud he was of the Warriors for successfully meshing as a squad while featuring athletes from four schools this winter.
“We took four towns of different and varying personalities and came together as a team and a family,” Henry said. “Since we are not under the banner of one town, our team bonding and chemistry is that much stronger, because we swam for each other.”
This year marked the first season for GNH Warriors, who featured athletes from East Haven, Guilford, North Branford, and North Haven. The team had an excellent campaign that saw Head Coach Martha Phelan’s squad post an overall record of 8-2, win the SCC Division 2 title, and finish in fifth place at the SCC Championship. Along the way, GNH earned victories against Amity and Hand, which both compete in SCC Division 1.
Following the 2019 season, Phelan, who has coached boys’ and girls’ swimming at North Haven for several years, reached out to Athletic Director Steve Blumenthal about the possibility of joining forces with students from other towns. Phelan and Blumenthal applied to form a co-op and received approval from both the SCC and the CIAC. As a result, the GNH Warriors were born.
“I had a huge response. I was so pleased. We had our first practice in the first week of December, and I knew from the first day on that this was going to be a great endeavor,” Coach Phelan said. “If there’s one thing that became obvious, it’s that these athletes were so grateful to have the opportunity and were very vocal in talking about how great it was. Giving these kids an opportunity to compete as a team when they most likely wouldn’t have the opportunity to do so was just a win-win for everyone.”
Phelan adopted a rule in which any captains from the previous season would remain in that role with the Warriors. GNH’s captains were senior Stephen Borrelli and juniors Tanner Powell and Joe O’Connor, who led North Haven as captains last year; along with Henry, fellow senior Evan Laughlin, and junior Dan Kamen, who were captains for the Branford-Guilford co-op squad last season.
Coach Phelan said that all six captains brought great leadership traits to the Warriors, while providing their teammates with a positive experience. The captains set up pasta dinners for the squad and even set up a go-karting outing to help everyone bond.
“It was nice having six different captains,” said Phelan. “It sounds complicated, but when you have so many different towns you’re drawing from, it’s nice having six people to depend on to get information out or things I needed them to do in their roles. It wasn’t overwhelming for one or two people.”
Along with Stephen Borrelli, Powell, and O’Connor, the Warriors were also represented by North Haven juniors Cameron Cargan, Raymond Lewis, and Ahmed Anwar, sophomore Kyle Borrelli, and freshmen Isaiah Becton and Christian Butler. Cargan swam with East Haven sophomore Hethon Foster, Guilford sophomore Finn Henry, and Aidan Henry on the Warriors’ first-place 400 freestyle relay that posted a time of 3:15.98 at the SCC Championship. Those same four athletes teamed up to take second place in the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:29.55 at the meet.
Meanwhile, Butler had a fantastic freshman season on the diving board for GNH. While working with diving coach Bob Lewis, Butler finished in sixth place by scoring 321.25 points at the SCC Diving Championship and also qualified for the Class LL Diving State Championship.
With Aidan Henry, Laughlin, and Kamen leading the way for the Guilford contingent, GNH also featured fellow Guilford students in juniors Collin Romero, Alan Penna, and David Zhang, sophomores Finn Henry and Michael Pearce, as well as freshmen RT Trotter, Aiden Cohen, Lucas Espinosa, and Joey Gould.
Aidan Henry was named the SCC Division II Swimmer of the Year after taking first place in the 500 freestyle for the second-straight season at the SCC Championship with a time of 4:39.35. In addition to swimming on the two victorious relays, Henry also placed second in the 50 freestyle by swimming a time of 22.09.
The Warriors’ roster also included Foster and fellow sophomore Pavlo Melnyk, along with freshman Dylan Sobolewski, who all attend East Haven. Aside from helping the 200 and 400 freestyle relays take first place, Foster finished second for the 100 freestyle with a mark of 48.85 at the SCC Championship. Coach Phelan describes Foster as a “real competitor” and feels comfortable using him in a variety of different events.
For the North Branford students, junior Connor Coyne was joined by Patrick Cucchiarelli and fellow freshman Spencer Carroll, who was the only female on the team. Coyne was named one of GNH’s captains for next season and will led the squad alongside fellow captains Powell and Kamen.
“Being from out of town, Connor was one of those swimmers who had to drive himself from North Branford to North Haven. He would always get to practice early and want to talk about things coming up and what did I think about all kinds of things,” Coach Phelan said. “He’s very enthusiastic, very respectful, and he’s one of those athletes that when it’s time to start practicing, it’s all business. He makes sure in a respectful way that other swimmers or divers are staying focused.”
Phelan said the recent season was one of the most enjoyable experiences of her career. She was pleased to see the Warriors’ athletes compete as one, while getting the most out of what high school swimming has to offer.
GNH will be moving up to SCC Division I next year. With only three athletes graduating, Phelan is expecting the Warriors to see more success in the water during the 2020-’21 campaign.
“I am hoping to be able to have another great season. I would expect another great season,” said Phelan. “We are bumped up to Division I, but whatever our talent is, we make the best of it.”
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