ORANGE >> Growing up, A.J. and Charlie Pite participated in several sports — basketball, soccer and lacrosse to name a few. But it’s been swimming where the brothers have excelled.
Now seniors at Amity, A.J., a versatile swimmer who has a strong command of all four strokes, and Charlie, a freestyle specialist, have led a young Spartans team to a 9-0 record this season.
“This year they’ve been the heart and soul of this team,” Amity coach Todd Rainey said. “This is their fourth season, and every season they have just gotten better and better. They’re just go-to guys as far as scoring points and being in races, but this year they have been awesome leaders. They have shown the rest of the guys how to compete, how to train, how to race. We would be in trouble without them.”
Perhaps influenced by their father, Dave, who was a swim captain during his senior season at Tufts, A.J. and Charlie decided at a young age swimming would be the sport they would compete in during high school, and beyond.
“We played other sports, but this was the one that we really stuck to,” Charlie said. “We wanted to swim our entire lives.”
As a former swimmer, Dave Pite has been involved in all aspects of his sons’ young careers, both as a parent offering words of encouragement and as a teacher keeping the brothers focused on conditioning and training.
“He’s pretty strict about us going to practice, and it seems like of all the sports we’ve done, he’s emphasized swimming the most,” A.J. said. “He has a really good concept of everyone’s times, and he knows our main competitors. He’s pretty serious about it.”
A.J., Charlie and sister Claire are triplets, although Claire is not a swimmer. The brothers have a friendly sibling rivalry, and having someone else who understands the rigors of the sport has been beneficial.
“It’s definitely helped me,” Charlie said. “I guess I am always comparing myself to him because he is a good swimmer. It pushed me in practice to just work harder and keep up with him. If one of us is having an off day, I feel like it would be easier just to quit if you didn’t have someone there that you know is going through the same thing. It just helps me to push harder in practice.”
Like any sport, dedication and work ethic are essential. The Pite brothers have spent countless hours in the pool perfecting their craft.
“It takes a lot of hard work and dedication,” Charlie said. “You can’t really take a few days off without getting back in the water and feeling out of shape. You have to swim pretty much every single day of the week, sometimes twice a day. It’s year round for most competitive swimmers, so it gets pretty tough. There’s only a couple of weeks off during the year, but I definitely think it’s worth it.”
When A.J., who will attend Connecticut College, was about 10, he competed in the freestyle and backstroke. He later began to master the butterfly and breaststroke and has since become a fluent all-around swimmer, with the 200-yard individual medley becoming his featured event.
“When I moved to (the butterfly and breaststroke), my back and free didn’t fall off; they still stayed pretty good. So all around they just combined to make me a good IMer,” A.J. said. “During practice I usually don’t just train one stroke, I kind of mix around the steps to incorporate all four strokes.”
A.J. placed second in the 200 IM, and seventh in the breaststroke, at the State Open last season. He is the defending Class LL champion in the IM and also placed second in the breaststroke.
But there’s still some unfinished business to attend to before the brothers set their sights on the state championship meets. The Spartans have four dual meets remaining, against Wethersfield, Cheshire, Glastonbury and Fairfield Prep. The Pites have been pleased with how Amity has performed this season, especially with just 17 swimmers on the roster.
“I am pretty proud of everyone,” A.J. said. “With such a small team, we have a 9-0 record. Our next few meets will definitely be our toughest, but I am proud of our record so far.”