The number of girls’ on the Pilgrim swimming team isn’t anything too out of the ordinary, as 16 of them currently make up the Pats’ roster.
But there is a little more optimism surrounding the program this season and beyond, as Pilgrim has more young talent than it has in quite some time.
“I’m impressed with some of my younger swimmers,” Pilgrim head coach Nisa San Giovanni said. “A couple of my better swimmers are 10th and ninth graders. This is the best young group I’ve had in a while.”
The Pats went 2-6 last season in D-III, but have already gotten off to a good start this year with a 59-12 victory over Shea in their season-opening meet on Monday.
Though Shea didn’t have a complete team and couldn’t fill out all the events, it was still an encouraging way to begin the season.
“It was a good start,” San Giovanni said. “I was very happy with the start.”
Setting the tone for the team are its top two returners, Casey Adams and Taylor Ryan, both of who are sophomores.
Adams didn’t compete on Monday, but Ryan was impressive in taking first place in the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly. She was also part of the 200 medley relay team.
“Taylor Ryan and Casey Adams coming back from last year are very, very solid,” San Giovanni said. “They know all four strokes and can compete.”
Joining Adams and Ryan as the top-level young talent on the team is freshman McKenzie Caron.
Caron was on that same winning relay team with Ryan, and she also took first-place in the 100 breaststroke on Monday.
“The trio of McKenzie Caron, Taylor Ryan, Casey Adams, that’s the key,” San Giovanni said.
The rest of the team is also making contributions.
The Pats have the benefit of having at least two swimmers in every event, as certain girls have tried new events to help the team.
By filling those events, Pilgrim will pick up points it would otherwise leave on the table. That should make a difference in its wins and losses record in dual meets.
“It’s like track,” San Giovanni said. “You want to be able to fill all the events. At least you’ve got a shot to get some points.”
Seniors Caitlin Pope and Brianna Boucher are being used heavily in the freestyle events, including the relays, and they’ll be crucial parts of the team as well. Junior Courtney Smith is one of the team’s top backstrokers.
Junior Breena Reeves is also a bright spot, as she came on strong at the end of last season and is looking to carry that forward into this year.
“Breena Reeves is doing a great job in the 200 and the 500, and she does the relay as well,” San Giovanni said. “She had a great end of the season last year. She just kept getting better and better and better. She had the best personal time at the divisonals, which was good to see. I’m looking forward to seeing her continue that.”
Rosario Romare, a junior, had her best time in the 50 free as part of the 200 free relay team on Monday, and freshman Drianna Watson tried the 100 butterfly for the first time in the same meet.
Those types of performances – coupled with the young trio of girls at the top – give the Pats reason to believe that they can see improvement from everybody this year, and make even more of an impact over the next few seasons.
“We don’t really set team goals,” San Giovanni said. “What we try to do is get the kids some times now, and then we try to get them to work on things to better those times as we go on. Fine tune the turns, make the starts a little better. Things like that Hopefully they keep getting better and better. That’s all you can do.”
Pilgrim doesn’t have another meet until Jan. 4, when it will host Cranston West at 5:30 p.m. at McDermott Pool.