After an undefeated season and a second consecutive Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) championship last year, the Pirates, the members of Stuyvesant’s boys’ swimming team, are eager to put on their goggles and freestyle their way to a repeat of both feats.
This confidence is justified by their consistently excellent performance. The Pirates’ regular season win streak is currently at 30, and the team has won the city championship seven times in the past decade.
However, despite all their previous successes, the swimmers prepared intensely for their first meet, which was held on Thursday, December 1, against the Evander Childs Tigers, and ended in a 62-32 win. The performance mirrored their 62-39 win against the Brooklyn Technical High School Engineers in the PSAL City Championships last February.
To continue their streak of successes, the Pirates have been holding morning practices at 6:30 a.m. five days a week, and “have started working out harder than in the past,” coach and physical education teacher Peter Bologna said. “We’ve hit the ground running.”
The team was able to take in some promising new swimmers, adding depth to its roster. “The new members are really talented and really fast, so they will definitely play a big part on the team this season,” junior David Jiang said.
Another one of the Pirates’ strengths is their large body of experienced swimmers. “We have 12 seniors swimming on the team this year and they all performed exceptionally well last year and will definitely improve even more this year,” Lin said. Senior En Wei Hu Van Wright qualified for Olympic trials, and broke the record for the 100-yard Butterfly, while senior Noam Altman-Kurosaki holds the school record for the six- and eleven-dive events.
The rookies have quickly become part of the closely-knit team. “We all really take pride in being on the Stuyvesant swim team, and we all work towards one goal, swimming fast and winning. Everyone helps each other out, and we become very close,” senior and co-captain Kevin Lin said. “The swim team is like a second family to me.”
Returning members have assured Bologna that they worked hard throughout the off-season to fill the voids left by the four seniors that graduated. “The returners have all stepped up and became leaders on the team, and have helped the rookies acclimate themselves,” Bologna said.
Concerning leadership, the loss of last year’s seniors has had a minimal impact. The new co-captains, Lin and senior Andrew Qiao, have stepped into their new position with ease. They began to prep all members of the team well before preseason workouts began on Monday, November 7. They have conducted dry lands—exercises swimmers do out of the water—during 10th period, and have organized challenging water drills to get the team into shape.
“We have a lot of motivation and determination for this sport. Not trying your hardest would be failing your teammates,” junior Brian Chen said.
However, the boys acknowledge that Bologna, who has been the Pirates’ head coach for seven years, is their true driving force. “Coach Bologna has been really helpful in getting us back into the swing of things. He sets targets and has given us a lot of positive reinforcement,” Lin said.
Despite all the encouraging signs, the Pirates are going into the new season with an air of caution. “Other teams have gotten some very talented swimmers, so you never know what happens,” Bologna said. “Our practices and our work ethic is what’s going to carry us.”