August 8, 2018

Finding Summer Home With Nassau Lemmings, PHS Alum Kinney Guides Team to Strong Season

IN CONTROL: Daniel Baytin churns through the water in a meet last year for the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings. In late July, Baytin helped the Lemmings take fourth in Division 2 at Princeton-Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet, starring in the 12-and-under boys’ group. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After the Cranbury Swim Club closed in 2014, Will Kinney had to find another outlet for his summer swimming.

Joining the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings as a swimmer and assistant coach, Princeton High standout Kinney quickly found a home.

“The team is a lot of fun, it is positive and it is such a great experience for everyone,” said Kinney, who is heading into his sophomore year at William and Mary. “I don’t think it could have worked out any better. I have met so many people; it has been really nice to grow with this team.”

Showing that growth this summer, Kinney served as the head coach of the Lemmings program.

“It was definitely more responsibilities with communicating; we had a lot of new families this year, so it was important to get everyone on the same page,” said Kinney.

“It was really rewarding; we finished this season 4-1, which has been our best record since I have been here. The progress was incredible since with the newer families, a lot of the kids weren’t certain about how they were feeling about the team. As the practices progressed, they really became some of the best swimmers on our team so it was really fun to have these new families.”

The Lemmings had a lot of fun at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet, placing fourth of six teams in Division 2 at the competition held on July 23-24 at the John Witherspoon Middle School pool which saw the Ben Franklin Swim Team take first.

“Our team is such a good blend of swimmers who only do PASDA and then swimmers who also compete for clubs,” said Kinney.

“It is fun to see these swimmers interact, helping each other out. We had some lightning-fast swims from all of our swimmers.”

As for the Nassau girls, the team got some some fast swims from Nava Brenner-Witten, who starred in the 8-and-under group, while Juliet Wei came up big for the 10-and-unders. Brenner-Witten placed first in the 8-and-under 25-yard backstroke and 25 butterfly and second in the 25 freestyle while Wei won both the 25 breast and 25 fly.

“They are definitely awesome, they have both been with the team a long time,” said Kinney.

“It has been super fun watching them get faster and faster. They are always listening to what we have to say, always having a smile on their face.”

The trio of Emma Hopkins, Kimberly Wei, and Sophia Burton paced the 14-and-under group. Hopkins finished first in the 50 free, 50 back and 100 individual medley while Wei took second in the 50 back and fifth in the 50 fly and Burton placed second in the 50 fly and 100 IM.

“They really had awesome seasons; they are fun to watch because they have taken on this older kid role on our team,” said Kinney.

“They are really helping the younger kids with stuff and then coming in and showing them some really fast swims.”

Lemmings veterans Isabelle Monaghan and Rachel Adlai-Gail came up big in the 18-and-under category. Monaghan won the 50 back and took second in both the 50 free and 100 IM while Adlai-Gail finished second in the 50 fly, third in the 100 IM and fourth in the 50 free.

“They are really helpful; they are always coaching everyone on the team,” said Kinney. “I am really proud of what they did.”

As for the Lemmings boys, Stephen Baytin and Sebastian Rodricks starred in the 8-and-under group. Baytin won the 25 free and 25 back while Rodricks placed first in that division in the 25 breast and 25 fly.

“They had some really fast swims,” said Kinney. “They are great; you can put those two in anywhere and you know they are going to have a fast swim.”

Two sets of twins, the McDowells, McLaughlin and Piers, and the Singhals, Armann and Aurav, piled up points in the 10-and-unders.

“It is really fun to watch them swim against each other,” said Kinney. “We always call it the ‘twin showdown’ when they are going against each other.”

Kinney’s younger bother, Sawyer, was another 10U standout, winning the 25 back and taking third in the 25 fly.

“It has been really fun having him on the team; I think he looks up to me and what I did through PASDA,” added Kinney. “I am really proud of the swims that he has been doing.”

Daniel Baytin produced a dominant performance in the 12-and-unders as did Lorne Wight in the 14-and-under group. Baytin finished first in the 50 free, 50 breast, and 100 IM while Wight prevailed in the 50 back, 50 breast, and 100 IM.

“Daniel broke 2 PASDA records [in the 50 breast and 100 IM] at championships, one of which had been standing for 25 years,” said Kinney. “He is unreal. Lorne Wight also had a really big meet. Both Lorne and Daniel won MVPs in their respective age groups.”

Oliver Gassman was a one-man show for Nassau in the 18-and-under boys, taking first in the 50 free and 50 fly and second in the 100 IM.

“This is his first year with Nassau; it was super nice having him come on the team and doing some fast swims,” said Kinney. “He got used to the way the team ran quickly and really became good fiends with a lot of the people.”

In Kinney’s view, the positive environment around the pool is what sets the Lemmings program apart.

“The Nassau team has some of the nicest people that I have met; this year, our pool won the sportsmanship award for Division 2,” said Kinney.

“It goes to show that everyone is really caring for everyone else on the team and looking out for people on the other teams as well. It is super to see how friendly and nice all of the swimmers are.”