East Penn Press

Sunday, April 22, 2018
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZBrendan McCourt returns to the Emmaus swim team after a successful freshman season. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZBrendan McCourt returns to the Emmaus swim team after a successful freshman season.

Boys swimmers look beyond local landscape

Friday, December 8, 2017 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

Talking with Emmaus swimming coach Tim O’Connor recently, he actually used the term “rebuilding.” Keep in mind that the term has a different meaning when you talk about Emmaus swimming than it usually does, especially on the boys side of the team, which has 10 straight District 11 team championships to its credit.

Once again this year, Emmaus is going to be one of the local powerhouses on both the boys and girls sides of the sport.

Beyond that is where the rebuild comes in.

“We’re never rebuilding on the local scene,” said O’Connor. “It’s not a rebuild to anybody locally, but I’m at my happiest when I know the kids are doing everything to be the best they can be year-round. They don’t have to be in the water, but they have to be doing something year-round, strength training or cross-training or maybe it is swimming year-round. I want to be able to compete and take these kids outside of District 11 and see how they measure up. That’s why we do the Bucknell Invitational and Wilson West Lawn. I want them to be hungry for that.”

This year’s boys team features a lot of depth, and O’Connor has kept 25 swimmers, many of whom are competing for spots in key events.

Senior Mike Brennan was one of the swimmers that O’Connor pointed to that is ready to take a leadership role with the team this season. Brennan, who is primarily a distance swimmer, comes into the season believing that there are a lot of positives on the team from the senior class down to the freshmen.

“I’m excited for this year because we’ve got a really strong group and I’m excited to help lead that team,” said Brennan. “We’re going to be really strong because we have talent in all of the different strokes and distances.

“We have some really good talent and our freshman class is definitely doing well.”

Brendan McCourt had an impressive showing on the boards last season as a freshman and learned a lot from friend Andrew Vanim, who graduated after last season. This year, McCourt figures to be the top boys diver, but there are others who are going to be pushing him for that top spot on a rejuvenated diving team for Emmaus.

“Drew Stanger is returning, but then we bring in four new boys, which is awesome, so that creates competition and then it sets up to be even better at the end of the year,” said O’Connor.

Overall, things look good for Emmaus swimming and diving this season. O’Connor believes that a revamped approach on the Emmaus Aquatic Club is helping to feed stronger swimmers into the program and finds that the club program and high school program are completely in sync, which helps at both levels.

The season opens with the annual Cedar Crest Invitational at Parkland High School this Saturday and features the first Eastern Pennsylvania Conference meet at Allen next Tuesday.

The first home meets come on December 21 against Stroudsburg and December 23 against East Stroudsburg South and Pocono Mountain West in a tri-meet.

While O’Connor talks about his swimmers accomplishing more than just local success, he believes that both the boys and girls teams are going to be strong again this season and sees that continuing for the foreseeable future.

“If you put the two sides together,” said O’Connor. “I think there’s a really good dynamic for us this year. We have 20 freshmen swimmers, which is awesome, because I can see the rebuilding starting.”