Since its inception in 2012, the Brunswick School swimming team has seen its numbers and production grow each season.
And the Bruins’ 2018-2019 season was their best yet.
After registering third-place finishes in the team standings at the NEPSAC Division I Championships two straight seasons, Brunswick earned a highly impressive second-place showing at the regional championship meet last winter.
“The program has gone from seven or eight kids in the first year to 33 kids last year,” said Bruins coach Aaron Montgomery, who is in his sixth season at the helm. “Last year, every swimmer on the team qualified for the New England Championships.”
The Bruins finished as the runner-up to Phillips Andover Academy at last season’s Division I Championships and placed ahead of formidable Phillips Exeter Academy at the meet, which involved numerous squads.
“We got second at New Englands last year and if we can repeat that this season it would be a dream come true,” Montgomery said. “We want to be competitive again with teams like Andover, Suffield, Deerfield, Loomis Chaffee and Choate — the top teams out there.”
Brunswick knows it needs a total team effort to do so, since a lot of talent departed due to graduation.
“We lost a bunch of points from the seniors last year, but I’ve already seen a bunch of guys step up,” Bruins senior tri-captain Jake Charney said. “We have been working really hard and you can already see it.”
Christian Farricker, Keegan Drew, Nico Apostolides and Cole Pierce were among the numerous graduates from the Bruins’ successful 2018-19 squad.
Farricker, an all-American selection last season, is swimming at Michigan, Drew (all-American honors) is competing on the team at Columbia and Pierce was an all-American performer.
“It is going to be hard to top last year, it was a dream class,” said Charney, who also captained the Bruins’ water polo team in the fall. “I think we have the firepower though to match, or be better than we were last year.”
Charney will compete in the 100-yard butterfly and 50 freestyle for the Bruins, who open their season Saturday against visiting Canterbury School. Senior captains Marcus Hodgson (100 butterfly, 50 freestyle) and Alex Morgan (100 backstroke) should spark the Bruins in their respective events.
Hodgson finished fourth in the 100 freestyle at the New England Championships a year ago (46.29 seconds) and took the third-place medal in the 50 freestyle (21.29 seconds).
“The team will be strong in the 100 butterfly and 50 freestyle, we have a lot of great guys in those events, specifically, our underclassmen, who are great in those events.”
Following a standout junior season, Hodgson hopes to make his senior season on the team his most enjoyable one.
“Being on this team has been the best experience of my life,” Hodgson said. “When I was an underclassman, the seniors taught me so many things and I learned so much from them.”
Morgan placed 11th in the 100 backstroke at the New England finals last season, clocking in at 54.20.
“We lost a lot of fast swimmers from last year, but we also took on a lot of water polo kids, who are freshmen with a lot of talent,” Morgan said. “I still remember my freshman year when I was here with the seniors, so it’s cool now to be in the position of being one of the captains. I think we have a ton of talent, we just have to make sure we utilize it properly.”
An event the Bruins are especially eyeing this season is the 400-yard freestyle relay. Farricker, Pierce, Drew and Hodgson placed second in the event at the NEPSAC Championships last season in an all-American time of 3:03.01.
“We have a goal of breaking three minutes this year,” Montgomery said. “But we have to replace three guys who were 45 or 46 in the 100 freestyle. So we are putting pressure on some guys and we are going to see who can step up and rise to the challenge.”
Sophomore Alexander Hazlett, who finished sixth at the NEPSAC finals in the 100 breaststroke (59.35) returns, as do junior Max Meissner (sixth 200 individual medley, 1:58.71, sixth 500 freestyle, NEPSAC Championships, 4:48.80), sophomore Lucas Hodgson (seventh 200 freesyle NEPSACs), Gavin West and Michael O’Malley.
“We have 28 kids on the team and we are waiting to see what they can do,” Montgomery said. “Our sprint events are strong and our depth in each event is very good. We have multiple boys under 22 in the 50 freestyle, which is good.”
Following their home meet against Canterbury on Saturday, the Bruins host Hamden Hall on Wednesday.
“For us to become closer as a team and become a family is really important,” Marcus Hodgson said. “We want to make sure everyone has fun and we all want to work hard to swim fast at our championship meets.”