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The student news site of Colonia High School

The Declaration

The student news site of Colonia High School

The Declaration

The Colonia Swimming Patriot prepare for their new season

The 2015-2016 Co-ed Swim team takes their official team photo.

On November 16th, Colonia High School’s Swimming Patriots started their new season with tryouts at the Woodbridge Community Center. Athletes were asked to bring their competitive swim suit and a towel.

Lindsay Chang, former coach and current History teacher at CHS announced at the end of the 2014-2015 season that she would not be returning next year as coach, but she would remain as a teacher in the school. The new coach appointed was David Degraw, Iselin Middle School History/Social Studies teacher. Unlike past coaches, DeGraw plans to be coaching this team for many seasons to come.

On his schoolwires, Coach DeGraw expressed that he is “looking forward to working with the Colonia High School swim Team also known as the Swimming Patriots.”

Try outs were after school and consisted of a 200 meters, eight laps, warm up and 100, four laps, freestyle that had to be completed in under 2 minutes. At tryouts, DeGraw explained to the swimmers that even if they didn’t make it as a swimmer, he would try his best to involve them in a different way–either as a helper, stat person, etc.

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The team roster was posted that night around 10 pm. The captains this season are Lauren Knef (Senior), Anjali Gordon (Senior), and Devin Moran (Junior). Returning swimmers include: John Piccinic and his sister Shelby (Sophomores), Adriana Daniel and Stephanie Kontra (Junior). New swimmers include: Adrian Hernandez and Sean Regan (Freshmen), and Keyur Palan and Alim Memon (Juniors).

Memon is the first swimmer at Colonia to be in a wheelchair. He believes, “when I work hard, I have no obstacles.”

When Memon immigrated to Colonia from Pakistan his freshman year, he knew he wanted to join the swim team. He began practicing at the Woodbridge Community Center over the summer to make this dream happen.

“Thank you to Mr. Panko, Ms. Zino, Mr. LaSala, Mrs. Bowler, and my coach for believing in me,” Memon added. Looking into the future, Memon confidently assured “there isn’t a sport I cannot play.” He is working with Mr. Hennessey, volleyball coach and gym teacher, about getting a “sports chair” so Memon can participate in more sports.

Practices for the team started Tuesday, November 17th. Practice is everyday either at 3:00pm or 5:45am, Monday-Friday. The first morning practice was Wednesday, November 18th.

Coach DeGraw said he is very excited to be taking on the role as head swim coach. He plans on using the skills he has gained over the years he has spent as both an athlete and a swimming official to transform the Swimming Patriots into not only a more competitive program, but also a team that builds on the school’s mission statement: Character, Commitment and Community. This season DeGraw’s goals “are very simple;” he says, “to help each swimmer improve themselves both as an athlete and an individual over the next several months. We will be focusing on stroke technique, endurance, and team spirit to name a few.”

DeGraw thinks this will help the team beat cross-town rivals John F. Kennedy Memorial High School and Woodbridge High School again this year.

Colonia keeps their victory streak going by practicing hard

“As Swimming Patriots we will build our character as citizens, we will commit to improving ourselves as student athletes and we will actively participate in our community,” said DeGraw.

Stephanie Kontra, junior at CHS, has been a member of the Swimming Patriots for three years. She has had a different coach every year she has been a part of the team. “In the year I knew my past coaches, I had become extremely close to both of them respectively and it broke my heart when each of them announced their resignation as coach but I think Coach DeGraw is exactly what this team needs. It is already clear that he wants this team taken a lot more seriously and we will be working hard. I think this team is going to significantly improve under Coach DeGraw. I am also happy to know that the new-coach-every-year trend is going to end.”

The swim team plans on doing three fundraisers throughout the season. The first fundraiser started on November 17th, selling cookie dough. Another fundraiser the team plans on doing is an Applebee’s Flapjack Breakfast on January 10th from 8am-10am. The tickets are $10.

Finally, the team is having their annual apparel sale; order forms and the sale date will soon be announced.

Coach Degraw is big on a new slogan this year, “We Are One Team. We Are One Family. We Are The Swimming Patriots.”

The team’s first meet will be December 2nd, at home against Wardlaw-Hartridge High School,be sure to show up and support the Swimming Patriots.

DeGraw would like to thank Mr. Pace and Mr. LaSala for giving him this opportunity to coach the swim team at his alma mater. “The team is off to a great start and I look forward to working with these student athletes this season and many more to come.”

If you are interested in knowing more about the swim teach, you can follow Colonia High School Swimming on twitter @coloniaswimteam.

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The Colonia Swimming Patriot prepare for their new season