Zoli Day Represents Future Of Nantucket Swimming, Earns Zone Cut Time

David Creed •

Zoli Day
Zoli Day, 12, is emerging as the face of Nantucket swimming's future. Photo courtesy of Mike Day

The MIAA state swim meets came and went last weekend to put a cap on the 2023-2024 varsity winter swim season. With that season in the past, it is worth taking a look towards the future and at just 12 years old, Nantucket swimmer Zoli Day appears to be the face of it.

Day has been turning heads with some impressive swim milestones that have the young swimmer poised to become the cornerstone of the Whaler’s swim program for years to come. She earned a zone cut time of 33.79 in the 50-yard breaststroke event during the New England North Shore Swim Club meet in December at Boston College. The meet ran from December 8-10. The time could be a sign of Day's swimming career extending beyond high school.

“If you're making zones when you're 12, 13, 14 years old, you're probably going to swim Division I in college,” Nantucket Community School aquatics director James Voyages said.

At such a young age, Voyages said the next few years could help Day take significant strides that help her take her skills and abilities to the next level.

"There's a lot of things that can happen," Voyages said. "This age period can be a weird thing on girls where some girls don't get faster as they get older. It is a very unique sport in that way because you're really dealing with genetics and growth. But yeah typically if you have a zone cut and you're 13, you're probably going to swim in college. But again, there's a large range in college too. There's only so many people that swim at UVA and Stanford.”

Nantucket club swimming participates in the New England LSC, which is made up of swimmers from Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire. There are a total of approximately 1,500 swimmers enrolled according to Voyages.

But a zone cut is much more difficult accolade to earn than an age group cut, which represents the top 10 percent of times in each event swam by swimmers within the New England LSC. A swimmer who earns a zone cut time achieves a time in the top 3 or 4 percent of all swimmers across the entire eastern zone of the United States.

"So you're talking essentially about Virginia, all the way north to Maine, and then as far west as Pennsylvania. So now you're talking about 50,000 swimmers (that you’re up against),” Voyages said. “Those cuts are a lot more strenuous. I would say the top four or maybe three percent of an age group meet will have zone cuts. So you're talking about like the top three percent of the top 10 percent of New England swimming.”

Day’s individual success has those in the Whaler swim community excited for the future, but  Nantucket Aquatics - run by the Nantucket Community School - as a whole has begun to rebound following a downturn in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic according to Voyages. He attributes the growth in swim participation to a learn to swim program he reinstated after the program went into hiatus during Covid.

"Now that program is just feeding right into the (club) swim team," Voyages said. "We've already gotten nine new graduates that came out of our learn to swim program that then joined the swim team and when you're talking about a team that's only 50 kids, you're talking about like a 20 percent increase just in one year just based off our learn to swim program. The organic growth is coming but we're probably like three or four years away from that team being 70 kids plus.”

IMG 6786
Members of the Nantucket Aquatics club swim team with coach James Voyages (far left). Photo courtesy of Mike Day
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