Leading swimmers for the upcoming season are, front row, left to right, Kyle Himmelwright, Jason Mercando, Bryon School and Quinn Perlstein. Middle row, Christina Williams, Kristen Kilroy, and Tyler Baskin. Top, Jackie Hammil.
A new but familiar face has taken charge of the Upper Perkiomen swim program this school year. Jessica Smith, who served as Missy Peart’s assistant coach last year, is confident that the success the team enjoyed last season will continue in 2012-13.
The Tribe’s boys’ team snagg-ed a District 1AA title, qualified for six state events and shattered six school records. The girls’ team broke even for its best record in many sears and finished seventh in districts.
Smith is not about to tamper with a successful formula.
"We’re doing a lot of the same. We went with a lot of success in the past couple of seasons, so we don’t want to overhaul anything. Of course, there has been some tweaks," Smith said. For example, "Missy was a big proponent of yoga, so we’re still going to do a little bit of that, not as much, because I’m not a yoga expert."
The boys’ program suffered the loss of such stalwarts as Collin Junk, Jody Peart, Matt Rose and Blade Umstead, but Smith, who works as a psychologist at Marlborough Elementary, is confident in her returnees and newcomers.
"I’m expecting similar finishes to last year," she said.
Senior Mason Cassel, who scored two gold medals at districts, will certainly be heavily counted on, as will fellow senior and medalist Kyle Himmelwright.
In districts last year, Cassel took gold in the 100 fly and swam on the gold medal medley relay. At states he was fifth in the fly.
"This year we are still going to have a winning season, we’re still going to have a lot of great races, but we’ve lost a lot of our depth which might bring up a few problems. All of our swims are going to still be good," Cassel stated.
Except for about a month off, Cassel has been training hard since the school season ended in March.
His team in Pottstown competes at the highest levels, and Cassel swam at nationals for the spring and summer seasons.
He is confident he is ready for a banner school season. "I’m looking to drop multiple seconds, impress some coaches in college, and get high places at states with me and the relays."
Cassel has visited schools such as Townsend, Marist, Seton Hall and Kings and hopes to make a choice soon.
Himmelwright was the district champion in the backstroke and also got gold on the medley relay.
At states the medley relay took third and set a new school record.
Senior Quinn Perlstein, who placed 18th in the 100 breast at states, also returns.
While the girls season did not end quite as spectacularly, it was a success. Graduated seniors Felicia Sloyer and Lindsey Brust were big parts of the team and will be missed, but most of the team returns.
"I think we can pretty much pick up from where we were," said junior Becca Rose who hopes to swim 100 fly, 50 free and 200 free relay.
One of the girls’ bigger goals this year is to break the record in the medley relay. That relay could include Christina Williams (back), Kristen Kilroy (breast), Jackie Hammil (fly) and Kirsten Siwy (free).
Many of the swimmers point to the atmosphere created by the coaching staff for the success of the past.
"It really comes down to having your team behind you," Rose said. "We’re really close as a family, and I really think that that support helps in individual races."
Smith, of course, was one of the family last season and got to work under the emotional coach Peart. The reserved Smith brings a more understated pool side approach.
"Coach Peart was a character," stated Cassel. "She was a little bit pumped up about a lot of things. [Coach Smith] knows everything that we’ve been training for over the past few years. I think she is great coach."