Bombers a smaller, stronger squad

Westfield High School junior Casiana Arroyo performs a back dive during the team’s first practice session at the school yesterday. (Photo by chief photographer Frederick Gore)

WESTFIELD – The Westfield High School swim team may be a smaller squad this season, but the Bombers are expecting to be stronger at the core.
Westfield entered the first day of the season Monday with 45 swimmers, down from 61 a year ago. Graduation and defections took its toll on this team this past offseason more than in previous years. But there are plenty of superb athletes who figure to have even stronger follow-up performances in 2011-12.
For the first time under successful longtime head coach Tom Lewis, the Bombers will add core strength training to its training regimen, which includes daily cardio exercise outside of the pool.
“Hopefully, we will bring it to a whole other level,” Lewis said.
If Westfield elevates their game by lowering their times in the pool, the Bombers could cause a splash by winning a Western Massachusetts championship.
Last season, the Lady Bombers followed up an undefeated regular season with a second-place finish at WMass. The Westfield boys’ swim team was also runner-up.
“We would like to improve on that,” Lewis said.
The girls’ team brings back a ton of talent with senior swimmers Jenna Rowbotham and Bridget Lewis; juniors Hannah Plourde, Genna Senecal, Jordan Jacobson, and Ari Fantakas; sophomores Erin Lewis and Hope Walsh; and junior diver Kelsey Viellette.
Walsh and Lewis put together phenomenal swim times as freshmen at last year’s Western Mass championships. Walsh placed fourth in the 500-yard freestyle (5:18.71) and sixth in the 100 breaststroke (1:12.13).
They figure to boost the Lady Bombers chances this year.
The boys’ core unit consists of senior captain Brendan Day, juniors Matt Labombard and Matt Jacobson, and sophomores John Dolan and Jim Stinehart.
Westfield will once again have a chance to ease into the heart of their season schedule before the tough dual meets take place later on. The Bombers open up with South Hadley at home next Friday, December 9 at 3:30 p.m., before traveling to Central on December 13 and hosting Monson Dec. 20. They then enter a two-week holiday break before returning to action on Jan. 3.
Said Lewis: “It’s going to be a very exciting year.”

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