Published: Sep 10, 2019 01:00 PM

Becky Osborne, coach of the Newtown High School girls’ swimming and diving team, is embracing the team’s early bump in the road — not having a home pool for what she believes will be the first month or so of the campaign.

“One of my favorite quotes is ‘if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you,’ and I plan on everybody being changed by the end of the season,” Osborne said with a laugh after preseason practice at the Newtown Community Center pool this past week.

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The Newtown High pool’s new boilers are not in yet, and the Nighthawks are fortunate to have the new Community Center pool available as they warm up for regular season. The team has also practiced outside, at Treadwell Park. With no diving board at the Community Center, the divers have trained in Brookfield. The first few meets of the campaign will be on the road, with an originally-scheduled opener at home moved to Stratford.

“We’re extremely grateful to the Community Center for finding a space for us. We’re disruptive to their schedule, and we can not thank them enough,” Osborne said.

Newtown High Athletic Director Matt Memoli added that he is appreciative of the Community Center officials for squeezing the Nighthawks in.

“We’re just going to have to hop on the road and make the best of it for the time being,” Memoli added.

The campaign begins Friday, September 13, when the Nighthawks visit Stratford High, at Flood Middle School’s pool, beginning at 5 pm. The Hawks head back to Flood for a date with Bunnell of Stratford on September 17, at 6:30 pm. NHS visits four-time South-West Conference champion Weston a week later, September 24, at 4 pm. The first home meet is scheduled for September 27 when Joel Barlow of Redding visits at 4 pm; Osborne noted that the meet may be bumped to October 2.

The Nighthawks, who lost a handful of postseason point-getters to graduation, are led by captains Olivia Renkert, Mopsey Seaver, Natalie Barden, and Kylie Giroux.

Heading into the campaign, Renkert primarily swims the individual medley and butterfly events; Seaver is a freestyle swimmer; Barden competes in free, butterfly, backstroke, and IM; and Giroux is a diver.

Among other key returning team members are Shayna Millard (freestyle and backstroke), Caroline Mahoney (free), Nora Kolb (backstroke and free), Cate Fischer (backstroke and free), Payton Bradley (free), and Hannah Weatherby (diver).

A strength of the Nighthawks is that swimmers can compete in a variety of events and swim various strokes, Osborne said.

“I think we’re pretty versatile,” the coach added.

Newtown hosts Brookfield and Pomperaug in back-to-back meets, October 11 and 15, both at 4 pm. The regular slate ends with a visit to Masuk on October 29 in another 4 pm start. The conference championship meet it set for Saturday, November 9, at Masuk (originally scheduled for 3:30 pm, the SWC meet time has been changed to 11 am). Coach Missy Carroll’s divers compete in the SWC championships November 5 at Pomperaug, starting at 5:30 pm.

Weston is the favorite to win the conference, with Newtown looking to battle with Pomperaug of Southbury, Masuk of Monroe, and Brookfield for second. NHS finished second in the conference championships a year ago.

“We have a very competitive league. Second to fifth could be anyone’s game,” Osborne said. “The season stands to be filled with challenges, but I have a lot of faith in this team that we’re going to rise to the top.”

Shayna Milard, left, and Olivia Renkert warm down at the end of a practice session at the Community Center. (Bee Photo, Hutchison)

Mopsey Seaver practices for the season. (Bee Photo, Hutchison)

Alexa Unger trains for the start of the campaign. (Bee Photo, Hutchison)

Swim and dive captains are Olivia Renkert, Mopsey Seaver, Natalie Barden, and Kylie Giroux. (Becky Osborne photo)

The Nightawks have practiced at the Community Center during preseason since the Newtown High pool is not expected to be ready until about halfway through the season. The wait is for boilers to heat the pool. (Bee Photo, Hutchison)

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