Bolstered by Addition of Talented Newcomers, Hun Swimmers Getting New Racing Opportunities
By Bill Alden
With its roster essentially doubling in size over the last few years, the Hun School swimming program is enjoying new competitive opportunities.
Having been limited to fielding one co-ed team in dual meets in recent years, Hun has been rolling out separate boys’ and girls’ squads this winter.
Raider head coach Joan Nuse sees the increase in numbers as a boon to the program.
“When I started five years ago, we had either 15 or 16 kids total for co-ed meets, and now we have 31,” said Nuse.
“By splitting, it gives everyone more of a chance to swim. That is our focus — letting kids get in and letting them keep working to improve. We have talent and even the kids who are novices are really improving.”
The Hun girls’ team has benefited from the addition of a crop of talented newcomers, including sophomore transfer Becca Della Rocca, junior transfer Marie-Eve Hebert, and senior transfer Isabelle Peel along with a pair of freshmen, Hannah Davis and Niki Simhadri.
“They have added depth, it has really helped us a lot because they are really good swimmers and they are very versatile,” said Nuse, whose girls defeated Hamilton 96-70 on December 18 to improve to 2-0 as they went into the holiday break.
“It really allows us to change things up. Because we have them, it makes it so some of returning swimmers are able to swim some other things.”
The team’s top returner, junior standout Abbie Danko, is getting the chance to diversify her portfolio this winter.
“She has been doing great, she is willing to do whatever we need her to do,” said Nuse, whose other key veteran swimmers include junior Grace Davis, sophomore Kashvi Mehta, and senior captain Emily Ryan, currently hampered by illness.
“It is nice for her that she does have some more flexibility and is not having to swim the 500 free or the fly every time. She is very versatile, and she is able to do a lot of different things. In the past, she had to swim certain things for us because there was really no one else to do them.”
As a result of the team’s increased versatility and depth, Hun will be making its debut at the Mercer County Championships later this month.
“We are doing counties this year, it should be exciting; we definitely have a chance to get some points,” said Nuse, noting that Della Rocca won the 400 free and finished second in the fly at the county meet last winter while swimming for Princeton High.
“Just to be there is going to be exciting. We haven’t been there in a very long time. It will be interesting for us to see how we do against some of these different teams because we haven’t had the experience.”
As for the boys’ squad, its experienced swimmers, junior Andrew Petty, junior Josh Nguyen, junior Jake DiAndrea, and sophomore George Bailey, have been stepping up.
“They have all played really important roles,” said Nuse, whose boys topped Hamilton 100-70 on December 18 to improve to 3-1.
“Josh has done whatever we have needed him to do and same thing with Andrew and George. Against Hamilton, Jake didn’t feel good but he still went out and said he would get through a couple of relays. They are all able to do good stuff for us and are able to do whatever we ask them to do.”
Post-graduate Arturo Rodrigues, a water polo player who is in his first year of competitive swimming, has given Hun some very good efforts.
“Arturo has really, really helped us a lot; he has a lot of potential,” said Nuse.
“The thing about Arturo is that he just wants to learn. He is always asking people questions and asking for help. One of the things that he is really good at without having done it is butterfly. There is a lot of technique to fly so at practices, depending who is there in his lane, he might be asking Rebecca one day to help him and another day he might be asking Marie-Eve, and another day he is asking Abbie.”
A quartet of freshmen, Jayden Nguyen, Kevin Yang, Oscar Hang, and Gabe Huang, have helped the Raiders right away.
“Jayden is Josh’s brother and he is coming along nicely, including having won the 50 free a couple of times and powered some through some flies,” added Nuse.
“Kevin came in second in the back the other day. Oscar is another one who shows a lot of potential. Gabe is a club swimmer who is doing good things.”
The boys’ team is planning to enter the county meet and is looking for a nice showing.
“They are going to go to the counties; we will see how it goes,” said Nuse. “I think we have some kids who could potentially do something.”
In Nuse’s view, getting additional racing opportunities this winter has helped her swimmers maximize their potential.
“To me, one of things that is coolest is to watch people come in and they start off and they are struggling a little bit,” said Nuse, whose swimmers return to action with a meet at the Blair Academy on January 8. “Now to watch them really improve is great to see.”