East Brunswick Boys Swimming: More Than Just a Team

"I don't think you can name many other sports that usually get home at 6:45 on a school night and you still have to eat, shower, do homework, and repeat it all again the next day." Dennis Zhang, 12, tells Bear Hub.

Pummeling+through+the+water%2C+team+captain+Jonathan+Benowitz%2C+12%2C+is+the+raging+bull+in+a+field+of+sheep.

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Pummeling through the water, team captain Jonathan Benowitz, 12, is the raging bull in a field of sheep.

Andrew Yuen, Bear Hub Staff

Shouting from the bleachers, Dennis Zhang, 12, has been a part of the Boys’ Swim Team since he was a freshman. In the water, three of EB’s swimmers compete in the 800 freestyle; out of the water, a massive group of both boys and girls scream their lungs out, head coach Sean Carney intensely clenching his clipboard.

Zhang says, “Being one of the only sports with members from all grades, co-ed team practices, and competitions side by side, we have this camaraderie and bond unlike any other team.” Franklin Choi, 11, echoes these sentiments, saying one of the largest contributors to the team’s success is their focus on team unity. Unlike other sports, the swimmers have pasta parties, morning workouts, and a season-ending mystery trip. This year, the team was surprised with a bowling trip to Bowlero. Even more surprising, that night at the bowling alley, Coach Carney actually destroyed his competition, well ahead of senior Aditya Vidharayan’s lousy nineteen points (out of three hundred).

With a record of 7-2 and being the first year making it to state sectional finals, this season is one for the history books. Zhang says his favorite moment of the season was the Greater Middlesex Conference. Going into the meet, he said, they knew they were going to have a difficult time beating their arch nemesis, St. Joe’s. Regardless, “we came into the meet with an energy like no other, every person on the team ready and pumped to do their best in the water and to cheer on fellow teammates.” Although they didn’t place first, “witnessing every swimmer go their best time of the season and seeing how proud Carney was,” was by far the most gratifying moment of the season for Zhang. Other swimmers like team captain Ryan VanDeVeen, whose sister, Darby, was also team captain years ago, shined as some of the best swimmers this season. VanDeVeen shattered his 100 breaststroke personal record and qualified for the Meet of Champions, an ultra-competitive tournament that brings together the best in the state.

A record-breaking season in all respects, the swim team showed their competition just what East Brunswick Swim stands for. Choi says he “craves more success next year, hopefully even winning state sectionals next season.” In the words of Zhang, in his last year of swimming, “From horsing around in the locker room before practice to roasting each other on the bus rides home after meets, I’ve never had a better time and been closer with the team; it’s as if we’re just one great big happy family.”