The Ithaca High School girls swimming team and diving team is mostly made up of underclassmen, and their young talent has shined throughout the regular season.
After winning four dual meets last season, the Little Red have won six this time around. Head coach Jon Singer credited the team’s outstanding work ethic for boosting their dual meet performances.
“It’s been such an improvement over last year in terms of team stability,” Singer said. “All those young kids last year are moving up, and they’ve been working hard. Everybody’s just putting in a ton of work, and we’re seeing the benefit of it.”
Of the 25 swimmers on the roster, seven of them are upperclassmen and only two are seniors (Vivian Molnar and Katie Pollock). They also have six more swimmers than last season, and Singer is more than proud of continuing to grow the program in his second year back coaching the Little Red.
“That is absolutely the best feeling in the world,” Singer said. “I’ve had years where recruitment is low or there’s not a lot of interest. You always expect that coming and going in waves and cycles as you get siblings and friends of friends and stuff like that. Just having a whole new group of kids join the team seemingly out of the blue has been fantastic. They have their own ideas and their own personalities to add to the team, and it really improves the team dynamic.”
The Little Red’s most notable performance this season came at the Elmira Invitational on October 14, where they placed fourth overall and third among Class A schools, competing hard against powerhouses Corning and Horseheads. Singer pointed out a few keys to their success.
“For one we had everybody healthy, so that was always a big bonus,” Singer said. “I also think we’re seeing a big payoff from a lot of the hard work that we put in earlier in the season, and it’s all coming together. We want to preserve that momentum, and [we’re] just really looking forward to what happens at sectionals.”
The standout swimmer in Elmira was Ivy Bascom. The junior won a trio of events, including the 200-meter individual medley, the 100-meter breaststroke, and the 400-meter freestyle relay along with Lea Teschl, Alice Clapp, and Blue Maralani. Bascom comes from a talented swimming family with her older brother Ryan excelling for the boys team before graduating this past summer. That same expertise has been on full display for Ivy.
“Last year, we were mostly focused on just that breaststroke,” Singer said. “This year, she spent the whole offseason training. She did a couple of big meets, as well, so I think it’s just the combination of even more maturity going into this year and all that offseason training combined with a lot of hard work.”
Clapp is another one of the top returning swimmers, coming off a pair of Section IV Class A titles in the 200-meter individual medley and the 100-meter backstroke. Clapp and Bascom are two of the team captains, and Singer noticed how they’ve stepped up their leadership roles.
“As we go through the years, people move up and move on, and we always have to pull in new rookies from the lower classes usually,” Singer said. “These great student-athletes have a good head on their shoulders. They know what they’re all about. They know what the team traditions are and stuff like that. And I feel like that really helps get people invested in the program early on and stick with it.”
In terms of the younger talent, Teschl and Fiona Blakely-Armitage have starred in the pool. Teschel spent the summer training in Germany and won the 200-meter freestyle at the Elmira Invitational, while Blakely-Armitage has won multiple events in dual meets. The present and future are certainly bright for the Little Red thanks to the freshman duo.
“Both are just incredibly talented swimmers,” Singer said. “They’ve been swimming for a very long time in the club scene… The common element here is all this hard work that they put in, just tons of yardage, tons of working on fundamentals, and it’s paying off in dividends.”
The focus for the Little Red shifts to sectionals, which begins on November 1 with the preliminaries. While it will be an uphill battle to win the team title with Corning and Horseheads in the way, the Little Red are primed for an impressive postseason showing.
“I think we still have some work to do—especially with some of our younger swimmers —not on the physical training,” Singer said. “It is really all about the little things, little details that sort of slip away from you as the year progresses and as you get tired, so we’ll be focusing on those for the last part of the season.”