'Canes taking first steps in building process
The Warwick Vets swim team may not improve on last season’s 1-7 record, but with a month of pool time in the books, there’s a strong feeling that things are moving in the right direction anyway.
Tamra Gallo, an experienced coach, is taking over the program, and senior standout Katie Evans is back to lead a team that’s growing – and getting better – with every passing day.
“I’ve got a very young team,” Gallo said. “I only have two upperclassmen, but we’re up to about 11 or 12 swimmers, which is great. I started the season with five, but the girls are talking it up at school. It’s going great. They’re having fun and they’re learning. I look at where they are now and where they were a month ago, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Gallo is a teacher in the Warwick school system and she’s been eyeing one of the high school swim jobs for many years. She’s eager to build the Vets program.
This first year will be about laying the foundation.
Vets is 0-2 in dual meets thus far, having lost to Cranston West in December and Pilgrim last week. But with this group, results aren’t likely to reflect the improvement that’s happening at practice and from one meet to the next.
“I have very realistic expectation as far as team success in meets, but it’s such a nice group of girls that I’m honored to be coaching them,” Gallo said. “It’s going to be fun.”
Leading the way for the ’Canes is Evans, who’s been one of the city’s top swimmers throughout her high school career. Last season, she won the 100 butterfly and placed second in the 200 IM at the Division III championships. At the state meet, she took fourth in the 100 fly and 11th in the 500 freestyle.
Evans is poised for continued success this season, but she’s also willing to help her teammates along.
“She’s a great leader on the team,” Gallo said. “She’s a wonderful teacher. She gets in the water with the newer swimmers. Anything I ask of her, she rises to the occasion. She’s a terrific young lady.”
In Friday’s meet against Pilgrim, Evans notched the only first-place finishes for Vets. She won the 100 fly in 1:14.07 and the 500 free in 5:19.95.
Sophomores Laura Paulin and Alyssa Flanagan are the only other swimmers back from last year. Paulin took third in the 100 free and the 100 breast against Pilgrim, while Flanagan finished third in the 200 free.
Everybody else is getting their feet wet. Ashley Petronelli finished third in the 50 free against Pilgrim and Helen Czerpka took second in the 100 back.
“I’ve got a couple of swimmers who are really coming along,” Gallo said. “It’s a learn-to-swim program for a lot of them, but I’ve coached all different levels so that works for me.”
Overall, the ’Canes will face an uphill task as far as the standings go, but they won’t worry about it too much. The focus will be on learning and dropping times.
“They’re a great group and I couldn’t be more pleased,” Gallo said. “We’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”