SALAMANCA — John Jerabek sees a bright future for the Salamanca girls swimming and diving program.
In his first year as varsity head coach, Jerabek saw big numbers overall for his program, but noted the majority of his swimmers belong in the seventh, eighth and ninth grade classes.
With a young team, Salamanca still won its season-opening meet against Chautauqua Lake, but lost the next two to Gowanda and Frewsburg.
“We won our first meet and our second two meets, we haven't done so hot, but we do have a very, very young team,” Jerabek said. “A lot of our swimmers are seventh and eighth graders. We do have some good leadership at the top, but we do have a lot of younger swimmers who are still working on their form, still trying to get their feet in the water, all that good stuff. But I'm really excited to see where the team is going to be next year, (and) the year after. If these girls stick with the program, we should be pretty fierce in the next couple years.”
The leadership primarily comes from co-captains Myra Breazeale and Camryn Quigley, he added. Out of 23 swimmers, only eight are seniors, juniors or sophomores.
“Compared to last year, we have about 13 that would reliably show up, so that number in and of itself, I'm very proud of that,” Jerabek noted.
“I'm very happy at how those two have stepped up and claimed their leadership role, making sure that everybody's doing their sets, everybody's in the water,” he added of the captains. “And then we do have a couple of younger swimmers who are very impressive as well. We have Gabriella Bly, she's brand new, she's in seventh grade, but her attitude, her teamsmanship is something that I think all the other new swimmers can learn from as well.”
Jerabek took on the head coaching job after serving as an assistant coach for Michala Redeye and Laurie-Lafferty John last year. This year his assistants include Annie Kostrzewski and Billie Breazeale.
With no modified team this year, Salamanca brought the young swimmers into the varsity program and sought to give them experience whenever possible.
“Right now it is combined. We don't really have a modified team just because of the way that meets are working also with the new regulations,” Jerabek said. “Not a lot of teams are doing exhibition (races) for their modified swimmers. We are trying where we can to work with the other coaches and the other teams to get everybody in the pool and have the chance to swim and compete, but with the new guidelines and everything, it is harder, especially with larger teams and such being on the pool deck.”
Due to COVID restrictions, Section 6 currently does not plan to hold a postseason. In the final six meets of the season, Jerabek hopes to see his swimmers continue to gain confidence and develop fundamental skills in the pool.
“I think everybody working on their form and just being a more ... I don't want to say aggressive swimmer, but definitely trying to focus on the fundamentals,” Jerabek said of goals for the season. “Just because we do have a younger group, some of them have never swam before competitively. We're really trying to hammer in the different strokes, different techniques. As long as everybody improves, not even on their time but on the way they look and are cutting through the water, I think that'll be a really big win for us.”
2020 Salamanca girls swimming and diving schedule
(all meets 5 p.m., unless otherwise noted)
6 — Chautauqua Lake
8 — Gowanda
13 — at Frewsburg
20 — at Chautauqua Lake
22 — Fredonia
23 — Olean, 5:30 p.m.
27 — at Allegany-Limestone
29 — Southwestern, 6 p.m.
3 — at Panama, 5:30 p.m.