Northampton Press

Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Press photo by Rob MerchantSenior Brittany Hankee returns to the Kids swim team this season. The team kicks off their schedule Dec. 11. Copyright - Digital Media Magic Press photo by Rob MerchantSenior Brittany Hankee returns to the Kids swim team this season. The team kicks off their schedule Dec. 11. Copyright - Digital Media Magic

Swimmers ready to put in the work

Thursday, December 6, 2018 by Wendy Kennedy Special to the Press in Sports

The winter sports season has officially kicked off in Northampton in November. Delayed one day due to an early snow, the slow start didn’t impact the enthusiasm of the Northampton boys and girls varsity swimming and diving team.

The Northampton Middle School Natatorium was buzzing with swimmers and divers preparing for the upcoming season when the Press sat down with head coach Cullen Mentzell this week.

The team of 18 girls and 11 boys maintained their numbers despite losing several graduated seniors last year. The team is benefiting from 11 new swimmers and divers, including freshmen and upperclassmen who have swum for other area clubs instead of joining the varsity team in the past. The mix of experience and new faces gives the team a great dynamic according to Mentzell.

“I’m looking forward to the mix of well-rounded swimmers we have this year,” said Mentzell as he explained that many of the swimmers are strong in strokes across the board. “This gives us the ability to mix things around this year and have different swimmers swim different events each meet.”

The team also maintained a solid diving squad this season. With the loss of one diver, but the addition of one new team member, the diving contingent remains at two girls and two boys. Diving competitions occur at the midpoint of varsity swim meets and contribute points toward the meet’s overall score.

The team will face a competitive schedule this year with eight home meets and five away meets.

“We have a good mix of meets on our schedule this season,” said Mentzell. “We’ll be a competitive team and I expect we’ll be evenly matched with the teams we face.” Northampton dives into its 2018-2019 season on Tuesday, Dec. 11 with a home meet against Stroudsburg at 4 p.m., then travels to Freedom High School on Thursday, Dec. 13.

In preparation for the season, the team is practicing hard and focused on improvement.

“We are working on being efficient in the water, that’s the focus this year,” explained Mentzel, as he emphasizes general mechanics like swim technique and working starts off the wall.

While experience seems to be on their side this year, the team has some new athletes to develop and finds there is always room for improvement on their sport.

Overall, the outlook is good for the coming season. Amid the continual motoring of the lap swimmers and pounding of the spring board, Mentzel smiles as he talks about the upcoming season and the new members that will enhance the team this year. “It’s great to have new kids come out,” he explained. “Swimming is a sport that you can start in high school even if you haven’t been swimming since you were 4-years-old. All that matters is that you are willing to work.”

From one look at their practice you can see that the Northampton team is willing to put the work in and eager to dive into another great swimming and diving season.