BRATTLEBORO -- Beverly Baldwin, head coach of the Brattleboro Swim Team, said that when a person learns to swim they are first shown the pretty-looking strokes. But all that changes if they ever wish to compete.
"No matter the age of the swimmer, they still have to perform the same basic movements that every Olympian we’re now watching on TV has to perform," said Baldwin.
And while the U.S. Olympic Swim Team has solidified their place in history, the Brattleboro Swim Team seek to do the same when they compete at the Governor’s Cup State Swim Meet this weekend, Aug. 4 and 5 at UVAC, or Upper Valley Aquatic Center in White River Junction.
The team shocked spectators at the Southern Vermont Swim League Championship held last weekend at White’s Pool in Rutland, taking home the crown after the Brattleboro boys 19 years old and up group helped inch out a victory in the day’s final event, the 200 Yard Free Relay.
With Rutland trailing by just 40 points, Phelan Muller was the first in the water for Brattleboro to keep pace with Rutland’s starting swimmer David Cohen. Cameron Wright followed Muller, and entered the pool just behind Rutland’s Josh Cody by a few body lengths, closing the gap before teammate Max Picut went in. "Then all you could see was whitewater," describes Baldwin. "Picut was like a windup doll."
After Picut’s surge, still down by half a body length, Brattleboro’s
"For years, Rutland Swim Team has owned the Districts trophy," said Baldwin. "I knew coming into this we had to beat other teams, but the focus was on them." Rutland was seeded to place much faster than Brattleboro in the 200, according to coach Baldwin.
Brattleboro’s Atticus Nordmeyer broke two district titles in the 25 Yard Fly (17:03), and the 100 Yard Individual Medley with a final time of 01:33, while Cali Taylor earned two records in the 6 and under girls group. In the 6 and under boys group, Brattleboro’s William Hill broke three state records in the 25 Yard Back, 25 Yard Free, and 50 Yard Free. Cooper came close to breaking the 200 Yard IM record.
10 teams make up Southern Vermont Swim League. Three of those teams are able to practice year-round, while most Brattleboro Swim Team members only take part in a six-week practice season once a year at Memorial Park, in the town’s public pool. "The limited time frame is a challenge our team has always faced," said Baldwin. "But these kids swim with heart -- that’s how they are able to compete with those who receive year-round coaching."
About 80 swimmers make up Brattleboro’s team this year, and membership continues to grow. Many team members are closely related to one another. "It’s the families within the organization that make the team what it is," said Baldwin.
Some of the families include the Rizios, the Thurbers, and returning this year, the Picuts. "It’s good to have the Picuts back again," said Baldwin. "Things should go well this weekend with their return."
To prepare for this weekend’s meet, the Brattleboro team is practicing wall kick-offs and starts off the block, to improve on the physical demands of the sport beyond the actual swimming. 47 team members will compete.
Baldwin, Emma Gaskill, and Taylor Russell make up the team’s coaching staff. Gaskill has worked alongside Baldwin for about four years and helps the younger team members with setting up their relays. Russell is new to coaching the team, and is a past member.
Chris Brewer, who has been with the team since he was six years old, hasn’t forgot his watery roots. Though he didn’t compete Saturday at White’s Pool, Brewer’s appearance was a little added encouragement for his team to see them through. "Brewer got up early in the morning to drive up with the team," said Baldwin. "He took his day off to come to Rutland to help us with coaching."
Baldwin holds a hyper-modern theory on swimming. "You’re faster on your side, not on your stomach," she said. "We teach our swimmers traditional skills then build on that. If you watch Olympians, you’ll notice the heftier swimmers go really deep, then quickly come back up. The breaststroke has become to look a lot more like the butterfly -- you move up and down like a dolphin."
David Aquino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 164.