Swim Program Begins New Era Under Former Star Swimmer

David Creed •

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The Nantucket High School swim team has been one of the most consistent programs the school has had to offer for years. The program will hope to add another successful season to its history but will do so without former head coach Jim Pignato and his assistants Natalie Thompson, and Olivia Gallugiafter each declined to continuing coaching under a mandated coaching structure the school put in place for them. Last year's diving coach Drew Arent also will not return.

Pignato was head coach for 19 seasons while Thompson was an assistant for 14 seasons. Those two coached many skilled swimmers and divers, but few were as talented as Sophie Davies, the new head coach of the program. Davies, a young and energetic voice for the program she grew up in, is excited about what she has seen from her swimmers and divers early on and believes that this group has plenty of success in its future.

“I’ve seen a lot of really good things from the team and learned a lot of different things like who are the leaders of their lanes and who is capable of being pushed harder,” Davies, who owns the school’s female diving records, said.

Davies said eighth grade swimmer Eli MacIver has shown lots of promise early and she expects him to play a major role in some of the team’s top relays. He will be part of a thinner than usual depth chart for the boy’s swim team after Kevin Johnson graduated in June and Parker Valero, an eighth grade swimmer last year, opted to attend a prep school.

But the top of the depth chart still features some excellent swimmers in sophomore Jake Johnson and senior captain Justin Roethke. Both competed at the state meet last year, as did MacIver, and Davies looks forward to seeing what these three can bring to the table.

“I am definitely looking forward to Justin’s performances in his senior year,” Davies said.

On the girl’s side there are big names to be replaced. Emma Davis, Sam Wisentaner, and Emily Dussault all graduated last June and are now members of Div. 1 swim programs. There are some rising stars according to Davies such as freshmen Sara Dussault and Myah Johnson who could help fill the void left by these graduates.

Another member of the team who should have a valuable role on the team is senior captain Eliza Brown.

“Eliza has been one of our most consistent 500 freestylers and I am looking to continue that this year,” Davies said.

Davies also spoke highly of senior captain Lana Bresette as well as Hannah Harrington and Hannah Gerardi as swimmers who can help the girls team maintain their status as an elite group.

As for the management of the team, Davies knows there will be learning curves, as there are for any new coach in any sport. She said she wants to continue improving the workouts she sets for her swimmers, which she hopes to do by actively communicating with them about what they feel is working or fits their needs. She said she has also seeked the advice of the Community Pool’s director James Voyages.

Davies said this season is about rebuilding and ensuring they have a team that collaborates and bonds well as a group. She said when she swam for NHS, she enjoyed the study halls and weight room workouts, and will put an emphasis on those this season to help performance and team bonding.

“Swimming is very much an individual sport in a way however just like any other sport you can only win if the whole team is performing,” she said. “Even past just the relays. The relays are the most obvious option for that since there are four swimmers, but the top four places typically score so you want to make sure you have swimmers finishing first, second, third, all the way down the line so it is really important we have a strong team.”

The Whalers will open their season on the road Saturday, December 17 when they travel to Martha’s Vineyard at 12 p.m.

You can access the full schedule by clicking here.

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