MILFORD >> During her tenure as Foran swim coach, Kristin Skuches had the opportunity to coach her stepson, Darren. Now her son, Ethan, is a freshman with the Lions.
“We are a swimming family,” Skuches said. “My husband (Scott), he’s kind of grown to love it. We like to watch swimming meets, Ethan and I do. We don’t talk about this team, but we do talk about swimming a lot.”
Skuches is an accomplished swimmer and was a three-time all-state selection at Branford. She later swam at Providence College, but coaching her sons has been especially rewarding.
“It’s the best thing in the entire world,” she said, “because you get to spend time with them and just watch them grow; grow into young men. It was awesome going through that with Darren, and I hope it’s going to be just as awesome with Ethan.”
Ethan has been swimming since he was 7 and, after an initial resistance, has grown to love it. Kristin said she encouraged her children to participate in athletics, regardless of the sport.
“He tried a bunch of different sports and this is the only one that he fell in love with,” Skuches said. “I could care less if he swam or not, just as long as he did something.”
What’s it like having Mom as a coach?
“It’s not that bad,” Ethan said. “It’s a little more difficult at times because she’s able to read me better than some of the other kids because she knows who I am more.”
Ethan added that his mother treats every member of the team fairly and that she doesn’t play favorites.
Under Skuches’ direction, the Lions have experienced somewhat of a renaissance. Although Foran has not won a state championship since capturing back-to-back Class M titles in 1983-1984, the Lions have been competitive with Skuches at the helm. She guided Foran to a third-place finish in Class S in both 2010 and 2011.
“I think a huge part of it is our coach,” Foran senior captain Eric Hammer said. “Our team has really just been growing. There’s been a lot of enthusiasm for the sport of swimming. More kids are coming out to join the team and we’re seeing younger kids who are already at that much higher of a level than they’ve been in the past.”
The Lions may not have as much depth or talent as Southern Connecticut Conference rivals Fairfield Prep or Notre Dame, but Skuches says her team has good focus and work ethic. Experimenting with the lineup has proven to be beneficial for the Lions, who are 8-4 this season.
“The kids are really versatile,” Skuches said. “We can mix our lineup. While we might not have necessarily the superstars in the state swimming on our team, we do have a lot of versatility on this team. We can mix our team up in a lot of events and still be successful.”
Hammer said that Skuches’ words of encouragement and belief in every individual has also been invaluable.
“She’s always on her feet, just giving us tips here and there on how we can go faster,” Hammer said. “She definitely never focuses on one group more than another. She’s very good at making sure the entire team is well-coached.
“She always says that every race is an opportunity to swim fast. She really makes it a point to make sure everyone feels a part of the team and no one is singled out. It’s one big family.”