By Tobi Bankole
Varsity swimming has had a triumphant year. With swimmers Daniel Byrnes and Asia Minnes leading the boys and girls teams respectively, the swim team has had a triumphant season. They had a somewhat turbulent start to the season when their longtime coach, Jon Circo, stepped down and was replaced by Kirsten Erwin. However the team did not let this deter them, and flourished even more under Erwin’s instruction.
Zack Sommer ‘20, longtime swimmer, said that he enjoyed the team’s new atmosphere. “I’m not the most into swimming, but I’m definitely going to miss it more when I graduate. I’m sad this is my last year.”
Sommer showed significant improvement in his last year, dropping a few seconds off of his 50 free and 100 free.
Kendra Earls ‘20 said that losing Sirco was a big blow to the team, but they bounced back quickly. “He wasn’t at our first away meet, which was kind of scary. But coach Erwin came in and she did great.”
The difference in their coaching styles was a big change for the swimmers, especially those like Earls, Sam Karlen ‘20, Patrick Daly ‘20 and Daniel Byrnes ‘19.
“Sirco was more hands off, so we learned from experience,” Earls said, “but Ms. Erwin is really good about telling you what you’re doing wrong and helping you get better at it.”
Karlen also shaved off time from his 50 free and 100 free. “In total, I cut five or six seconds from my 100 and four seconds from my 50.”
Byrnes, in particular, had a successful season. Earning first team all state this year, Byrnes continue to dominate in the water. Adjusting to a new coach was challenging, and a shoulder injury prevented him from performing his best at conference, but he persevered. He bounced back at states, going on to place second in both his events.
Byrnes was modest about his triumphs. “I did alright,” he said. “There were places I could have done better, but I was mostly happy with my record.”
Daly had no such reservations and shared praise about his teammate.
“Daniel was a phenomenal swimmer this year and he was able to break a school record that he set again last year in the 200 free at states. It was amazing to watch him swim as always,” he said.
Daly also shared how impressed he was with Byrnes’ work ethic. “He’s early to every practice and one of the last people to leave everyday.”
Other than Byrnes, Asia Minnes made a splash on the 2020 swim season. Hailing from Canada, Minnes is an elite swimmer who already committed to the University of Tennessee. She had a successful season, placing first in the 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley at states. Ranked number six in the state and 37th in the country, Minnes’ arrival injected a fervor into the team.
“It’s really amazing to watch her in the water,” said Earls. “It’s motivating to have someone so good swimming with you. And she’s a really cool person out of the pool, too. The whole team got even closer this year.”