The Pilgrim girls swimming team faced many questions coming into the 2018-19 winter season.
Between a young roster, which included many underclassmen, some of which had never swam before, as well as a new head coach leading the program in Dori LaBella, the Lady Patriots had a lot to prove in the pool.
As the regular season winds down, the Pats currently sit at 4-4 and will take on Classical tonight for their final matchup before next week’s division meet. LaBella has been proud of her young athletes, and has seen steady improvement this season.
“We’ve been successful, they’re doing well. The last few meets (were) the toughest of the season, but they’re doing great. Their times are improving, they’re swimming faster, they’re gaining endurance, they’re working hard. We’ve had a few swimmers get sidelined with injuries, a couple got sick, but they are all doing well,” said LaBella.
Although it has not always been pretty, the Pats have won a handful of matches and went toe to toe with some of the top teams in the division, even during losses. Selflessness and being willing to try new things have helped the Pats learn the ropes quickly, and step their game up as the season has progressed.
“Even the matches that we’ve lost have been very close. They’ve settled in to where they like to swim, every once in awhile I’ll tell them, ‘give this a try,’ and for the most part they’ll say they’ll try it out. They’re pretty willing which is good. It’s all about practice and getting in their turns. Their strokes are all strong and they’re getting stronger,” said LaBella.
LaBella has also enjoyed her first year at the helm of the program, and has already began thinking of new ways to improve for next winter.
“It’s been fun, I’ve liked it a lot. I found out that I was going to be coaching at the last minute before the season started, so looking toward next year I think I’m going to try to have a more set schedule and try to map out the season early on,” said LaBella. “I also want us to take advantage of NEST in the preseason throughout the regular season. The program teaches techniques, and movement, some of which prevent injury. I really would like to see us take more advantage of NEST.”