Photo: Catherine Avalone / Hearst Connecticut Media
A coach’s first meet, or game, with a new team usually includes some nervous moments. Especially when a coach begins his or her tenure with a squad synonymous with success.
Such was the case for Cheshire High School girls swimming coach Dave Modzelewski, who started his first season at the helm by watching his team post victories against Mercy and Sheehan in a double duel meet last week.
Modzelewski replaced Dan Mascolo, who guided the Rams to six straight SCC titles and a regular season duel meet record of 62-2 over six seasons.
“I had some butterflies going into our first meet of the season,” Modzelewski said. “It was really relieving to get it over with. I had many conversations with past coaches and former swimmers on the team before the season and of course, I know the parents on the team and I knew we were ready to race, so that gave me confidence.”
The Rams’ first-year coach has also been aided by the squad’s experienced athletes, including senior captains Ellie Murphy and Elli Haskes
“I was impressed with how the seniors took the lead, showing the underclassmen how things run and where to go during the meet,” Modzelewski said. “Our captains did a good job of leading the team during the meet. I was also impressed with our freshman. Overall, the team was confident.”
Once the Rams’ season-opening meet against Mercy and Sheehan commenced, Modzelewski’s squad showcased their skills. Junior Julia Stevens won the 500-yard freestyle in 5:06.79.
“Julia and I had been talking a couple of days before it happened and we discussed where she should be and she blew that away,” Modzelewski said. “That was one of the best swims. Julia is a lane leader in our top group and she’s always setting an example and leading the way.”
Sophomore Nora Bergstrom produced winning results in the team’s opening meet (200-yard freestyle 1:58.30).
“Nora is one of the new swimmers to the team and I didn’t really have many times on her, but I knew she is a really good swimmer,” Modzelewski said. “A 1:58.3 at this point of the season very good.”
Jillian Stevens (sophomore, 100 backstroke, 1:02.47) and Haskes (50 freestyle, 26.02) were among some individual winners for the Rams (3-0) in last week’s season-opener. In the squad’s 96-80 victory against Hamden on Monday, sophomore Sophie Murphy (50 freestyle, 25.29), senior Esther Han (200 freestyle, 2:02.15) and senior Sammi Grenon (100 butterfly, 1:02.47) were some of the individual winners.
“We have depth and talent, so the team’s goals are the same as they have been in the past,” Modzelewski said. “Maybe we can take it a step further.”