The loss of a talented group of departing seniors from last season notwithstanding, optimism abounds on New Canaan boys swim team.
The Rams are hoping a new head coach, a balanced mix of swimmers and a tradition of winning will provide the right ingredients for a successful season.
New Canaan lost some key swimmers from last year, namely three First Team All-FCIAC members: Ian Robert, 200 medley relay, 50 Freestyle, 100 backstroke, 400 freestyle relay; John Santoro, 200 medley relay, 200 IM, 100 breaststroke; and Austin Wolff, 100 fly, 400 freestyle relay.
"We really did have a lot of aces last year, and you can't replace them," said David Fine, who takes the helm as head coach this year. "However, we can build depth; if we can build that and get that to be our strength, we will be very competitive."
Fine, a former assistant coach on the team for the past 10 years, replaces Jason Paige, who had an impressive run with the Rams.
"I plan on picking up where we left off," Fine said. "Jason was a great coach; he led this team to eight state titles in 10 years and one Open title and one FCIAC title. It was great being a part of that; together we helped build the foundation of what the team is."
The team knows Fine and is comfortable with his approach.
"He has coached us in the past, so we know him really well," said captain Ned Thunem, who himself was named First Team all-FCIAC last year.
"We have a good group, a good vibe, good leadership, so I think we're off to a good start," Fine said of the season ahead.
Last year the Rams finished second in both the FCIAC's and in the Class M state championship. This year the team has similar ambitions.
"I think we can be top three in FCIAC's, top three in States and top six at the Open," Fine said. "We want to get back to championships, but where you start is being in the top three."
"I am definitely excited for this season," captain Steven Skaperdas said. "We lost a couple people from last year, but those who stayed have gotten better. The freshmen seem to be really good this year, everyone is pushing hard, and the whole team is getting along together."
Skaperdas noted that the team will also look to junior Jacob Geyfman for a strong year, and "we have a lot of good people coming up."
As far as key matchups, captain Brian Bodick said that Greenwich is always a powerhouse.
"We're going to do the best we can and hopefully challenge them," Bodick said. "Wilton could be a big match up and Darien, naturally."
Fine said that he looks to the senior leadership on the team to set the tone.
"Our captains and our seniors, they're the ones who know the traditions and have been around this team long enough, and they know who we are and what we're about, and they need to instill that in all the younger boys," Fine said.
Thunem agreed with that sentiment.
"Our goal this year is to foster the underclassman and continue the tradition of New Canaan," Thunem said.