Hun Swimming Teams Enjoying Superb Season, Looking Forward to Competing at County Meet
FLYING HIGH: Hun School boys’ swimmer Gabe Huang displays his butterfly form in a race this season. Senior captain Huang has helped Hun get off to a 5-0-1 start this season. The Raiders will be competing in the Mercer County Championships from January 27-29 at WW/P-North. (Photo by Jamie McKee/The Hun School)
By Bill Alden
It may have been a tie, but it represented a triumphant moment for the Hun School boys’ swimming team.
Competing against nemesis Pennington, Hun dueled its foe to an 84-84 deadlock last Wednesday.
“It was very exciting, we had the lead going into the last relay,” said Hun head coach Joan Nuse, whose team moved to 5-0-1 with the tie.
“It was a little disappointing for the kids but they asked is this still historic and I said yes. I don’t think we had ever come close to them. As far as I am aware, we have never beaten them.”
In the meet against Pennington, junior Nick Danko placed first in both the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke while senior Gabe Huang won the 500 freestyle and 100 breaststroke and senior Tom Goritschnig prevailed in the 200 free.
Danko has emerged and solidified his status as a key performer for the Raiders this winter.
“Nick is a great swimmer, he has always done whatever he could do,” said Nuse.
“He has big shoes to fill in terms of being Abbie’s (former Hun star and current Bates College swimmer Abbie Danko) little brother. When we had our normal season right before the pandemic, he qualified for Easterns. He is a good swimmer. It is great for him to have a regular kind of season and get to going back to having counties this year.”
One of Danko’s classmates, Luke Cura, is having a good campaign.
“Luke is another kid who went with us to Easterns as a freshman,” said Nuse of junior Cura, who took second in the 100 free and third in the 200 IM against Pennington.
“I am really impressed because, unlike Nick who is a club swimmer, Luke is not. He ran cross country. He is swimming awesome for a kid who is only getting in the Hun practices.”
Sophomore Oles Spodin is giving Hun some awesome performances in the sprint events.
“Oles is from the Ukraine, he has a brother who is at Pennington so that was interesting,” said Nuse of Spodin, who placed second in the 50 free and third in the 100 free in the Pennington meet.
“They swam against each other in one race. He said, ‘I am swimming against my brother’ and I said, ‘how is that going to go’ and he said, ‘I will win.’ He is a sprinter.”
Goritschnig has also been producing some winning efforts for the Raiders.
“Tom is a nice surprise, I didn’t know I was getting him until he showed up,” said Nuse. “He had been injured at cross country in the fall. At the beginning of the season, he was having a lot of problems with his legs. We had to design a training plan for him. He is great in terms of a really great work ethic, he did whatever I gave him. He has really come on since his leg has gotten better.”
Senior captain Huang has made a great impact on the program, in and out of the water.
“He has been with us for four years, he is a super leader to the point that he is actually the president of the student body,” said Nuse, noting that senior Ruben Chandwani and junior Will Zeng have added depth to the squad.
“He is great. He really brings a nice feeling of camaraderie. He is really supportive of everybody.”
Over the course of the winter, the Hun girls’ squad has developed a nice camaraderie.
“They have been a great group of girls,” said Nuse, crediting captain Arianna Ding with setting a positive tone for the team.
“We have very few club swimmers. They are all doing their best and improving as the season has gone on. They have a great attitude. They are super supportive of each other and the boys. That is a nice thing about having everyone together.”
Senior Hannah Davis is enjoying a nice final campaign for the Raiders.
“Hannah has been doing well,” said Nuse, whose girls’ team has a 2-2 record.
“She had actually contemplated not swimming this year and decided to come back so that was great. That was a big boost for us to get her back. She is not swimming club any more so I think it is a little different for her but I think she is having fun. That is great and she is able to do all kinds of things for us. She will swim whatever we need.”
Another versatile performer for Hun is junior Charlotte Petty
“She is a nice swimmer for us,” said Nuse. “She is another person who is willing to do all kind of different things and help us out.”
After opting out last season, junior Sophia Burton has rejoined the program and made her presence felt.
“She also runs cross country, we are really glad to have her back,” said Nuse.
“She didn’t swim for us last year during the pandemic so it is great to have her back in the pool this year. She is a person who has such a great attitude with everything she does. She helps everybody.”
Two of the team’s younger swimmers, freshman Selena Xu and sophomore Lana Cheng, have been a big help.
“Selena is new this year and she has been a really nice addition for our team,” said Nuse.
“She can do all kind of different things. She got to swim the 500 the other day against Pennington. It is nice for Lana this year to get more of a feel of what swimming is actually like after last year. She has been doing a good job for us and I think she is really enjoying it.”
With the Mercer County Championships slated for January 27-29 at WW/P-North, Nuse believes her swimmers can do some good things at the competition.
“I think we are going to have some kids in the finals, especially when they can swim the events they prefer and in the strokes that they are the best at,” said Nuse, who guided the Hun girls’ squad to the county team title in 2019.
But no matter what happens at the county meet, Nuse is enjoying presiding over a more normal campaign this winter after having just two meets last winter due to COVID-19 concerns.
“It has been great, we have our kids back and we are able to practice on a normal schedule this year so that is nice,” said Nuse.
“We had some new kids join us so that is really helpful. I just think it has been great that we have been able to have a real season this year.”