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Water world

Wolfeboro Swim Team kicking off another season of fun in the water

AL ROZZI is back for his second season at the helm of the Wolfeboro Swim Team. Practices began this week. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 20, 2011
WOLFEBORO — Al Rozzi has coached swimming at all levels, all around New England and this summer he is returning to Wolfeboro to help lead the Wolfeboro Swim Team into another season of exciting action.

The Wolfeboro team competes in the Granite State Swim Association's Division II and despite being at somewhat of a disadvantage, the local kids continue to do well against competition from around the state.

What some might call a disadvantage for the Wolfeboro team is the fact that the kids don't have a pool to train in. While the team, through Rossi's connections with coaches around the region, managed to grab some pool time for training last season, most of the team's training comes in the chilly waters of Lake Winnipesaukee.

With the team beginning practices on Monday, June 20, the lake likely wasn't as warm as the pools where other teams train, which means the practices might have to be a bit shorter and the waves from passing boats can wreak havoc.

Additionally, being outside in the lake means there are no lane markers on the bottom of the swimming area, nor are their lane flags above the pool for swimmers doing the backstroke.

However, Rozzi notes that the team is looking to make little improvements with its home at Brewster Beach every year. This year one of the docks was replaced and it was made wider at the team's request, allowing for easier use. Also, the starting blocks are new and are the normal slanted style that swimmers are used to seeing.

"Next year we're hoping for the other dock," said Rozzi.

The Wolfeboro Swim Team welcomes kids ages five to 18 and all ability levels are welcome, though those wishing to join the swim team should be confident deep water swimmers.

"The kids who need more training, get more training-oriented practices," Rozzi said, noting that the older kids also step up to help with the younger kids on a regular basis.

"Really, to tune things in, you want to have some of that pear leadership," the coach said. "A lot of the people who are back year after year to the aquatics program have come up through the ranks."

Included in that list is assistant coach Corey Tower, who came up through as a swimmer and stayed on last year to assist Rozzi and will be back again this season.

Rozzi enters his second season in Wolfeboro with a long resume of coaching gigs throughout the New England area, including with the Lakes Region Wavemakers, YMCAs in the southern tier of the state and at Plymouth State University (his alma mater) and Keene State College.

He came to Wolfeboro last season replacing a coach who had been there just one season, meaning kids returning for a third season were on their third coach. He promised a bit of stability to the position.

"There had been a lot of changes," he said. "Some go over well, some don't."

He pointed out that before he took over, the team had been very top-heavy, meaning there were a lot of older athletes who aged out of the program, leaving the younger kids to earn the points on their own.

"We're kind of rebuilding," Rozzi said. "But we still have enough older kids to make it worthwhile."

Wolfeboro Parks and Recreation Director Ethan Hipple noted that he saw the younger numbers rise last season.

"In 2009, the team had gotten a bit smaller due to a lot of the older kids graduating out and not a lot of new younger swimmers," Hipple said. "When we hired Al and Corey, they started beating the bushes and got a whole group of young kids interested in competitive swimming again."

Hipple noted that the word spread about the solid coaching that the Wolfeboro Swim Team has brought on board and swimmers began signing up after the start of the season.

"Al and Corey are great guys who make swimming fun," Hipple said. "They work the team members hard at practices, but they also know how to have a good time and get along really well with the kids and parents."

Rozzi also notes that kids who don't feel they are quite ready for the team can work in the non-competitive program at the town beaches and he pointed out that often times the coaches might see a youngster swimming in those programs and invite them to the swim team.

"We get people who are multi-sport athletes and also year-round swimmers," Rozzi said. "It's important to run those swim programs to give them a taste and get them a sport where everybody gets a shot, nobody rides the bench."

The coach noted that numbers are crucial to the swim programs, as the team needs kids to compete in all the different relay events, where the team can earn crucial points. Swimmers also earn points for the team in their individual races, but if a team doesn't field a relay group, it loses out on the chance to pick up more points.

"Numbers count, if we're not able to field enough strong relays, it hurts," Rozzi said. "It's definitely tough competing against the southern part of the state, with the numbers they have there and the pools they have."

That being said, Wolfeboro continues to do well and put up solid numbers against much bigger teams, but is always looking for new talent to put in the lanes.

"We're so happy that head coach Al Rozzi and assistant coach Corey Tower will be returning again this year," Hipple noted.

The Wolfeboro Swim Team is off and swimming for another season, with the first home meet coming on July 8. While practices have already began, new team members are welcome and anyone wishing to join the team can call the Wolfeboro Parks and Recreation Department at 569-5639 for more information.

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