BRISTOL - With three swimmers from last year now at the collegiate level - Thomas Wejda (Boston University), Kevin Klotz (Trinity College) and Steve Miano (Bentley University) - the Berlin boys swim team came into this season with high expectations for the sophomores in their second varsity season.
With 14 sophomores on the team, the group has improved over the course of the season and are a major part for the Redcoats moving forward with the year.
"They had a lot of big roles to fill after last year," Berlin head coach Daniel Thurston said. "We had a strong senior class that graduated. A [few] of them are swimming in college and doing really well. It's been phenomenal to watch [the sophomores] grow up and step into the roles and grow into the roles. They've really taken over the identity of the team."
Kiernan Jennings and Andrew Roberti have specifically stood out to Thurston.
In the meet against Bristol Jennings had a top 5 performance in the 200 freestyle and has grown into his role in that event.
Roberti just had his best time in the 100 butterfly and improved on his performance from the state meet last year by two seconds.
"There's been a lot of growth from this time last year," Thurston said. "If they continue the work they're doing and continue to stay strong and work together as a team and pushing each other as we do, we should have a really good finish to this year and be good going forward."
Berlin has just three seniors on its roster and eight juniors, as the sophomore class makes up most of its team.
"That's why our team has been doing a lot better this year compared to last year because all the sophomores are more experienced,” Berlin junior Connor Recck said. “I'd say next year and when we're gone the team is going to be really good because they're going to have a ton of experience."
With the improvement, the Redcoats upperclassmen believe this team has a good chance of making a mark at the states if they put in the work needed to do so.
"With the times that we have going now, there's a really good possibility that we’ll have a big states team," Recck said. "A lot of people are going faster than they did at the end of last year and they didn't make states. That's what I'm most looking forward to."
Regardless of how this season concludes, the future is bright for Berlin moving forward with the 14 swimmers continuing to grow in the pool.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org