Last season, East Brunswick’s boys swimming team came close to doing something that no Greater Middlesex Conference team has ever done.
The Bears were just 13 points away from wrestling the GMC title from St. Joseph, which has won the GMC Championships in boys swimming every year in the event’s 38-year existence.
East Brunswick ended up coming in second, as they went on to finish the season by setting a school record in power points and getting its highest place in the GMC’s in the program’s history.
For this season though, head coach Jeff Sundberg says the team needs to make a point of not getting ahead of itself.
Sundberg, who’s entering his ninth year as the coach for the Bears, referred to this season as a “rebuilding year”.
“We lost a lot of talent both through graduation, and also through some kids not returning to this years team,” Sundberg said.
“So we have a young group and to be honest I think it’s too early to tell if we’ll have an opportunity like we did last year, but I think we have a long way to go before we start thinking about beating St. Joe’s. This season, we’re a younger team and I think we just need to look at it one meet at a time and then build towards the end of the season.”
The state reassigned East Brunswick to the Central Public A section this season for the state tournament, and Sundberg believes that will give the Bears a better chance at success.
“We’ve always been in a very difficult section with Bridgewater, Hillsborough, Hunterdon Central, Westfield and it’s been very difficult for us to have success in state competition,” Sundberg said.
“(The move) gives us a better opportunity to win a few meets in state competition. So our goal in state competition is definitely to win our preliminary round, which we were unable to do last year. And also have success in the GMC meet, whether that’s beating St. Joe’s or not that’s a whole nother question. But certainly a top two finish would be our goal at GMC.”
Sundberg says the team will be lead by seniors Kevin Chow and Nolan Choi. Choi, a sprinter, posted a 26.54 in the 50 freestyle last year and took fourth at the GMCs in the 100 freestyle. Chow, who swims in the 500 freestyle and 200 freestyle, took third in both the 200 and 500 freestyle in last years GMCs.
Chow says the team’s upperclassmen have taken measures to bring along the new freshman, who will be integral to the team.
“During the offseason for about a month and a half we held trialing training which helped the younger swimmers and potential freshmen to get prepared for the season,” said Chow. “And during practices, we also set up drills and introduce new techniques to the younger swimmers so they can learn to pull more effectively and to get better time.”
Chow used the offseason to prepare himself as well.
“I swim for a swimming club, Scarlet Aquatics, which practices at Rutgers between September to the beginning of August.” said Chao. “I swim for 11 months throughout the year and that has really prepared me for the upcoming season.”
Despite the loss of some key seniors the team is looking forward to the season.
“I’m just excited to coach this group,” Sundberg said. “In a way it’s a rebuilding year and I’m excited to see what we can do.”