The Laconia High School swim team competes at a meet hosted by Bow High on Jan. 13. (Courtesy photo)
By DAVID CARKHUFF/THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Swimmers and skiers from Laconia High School are overcoming financial constraints due to budget cuts to score at area meets.
Laconia High School swim team competed Friday, Jan. 13, against host team Bow High School and seven other area high school teams, and members placed. That's without a local swimming pool available to the Sachems.
Both the swim team and the alpine ski team are funded outside of the budget, confirmed Craig Kozens, athletic director/dean of students at Laconia High School.
At the Bow meet, the swim team placed four members in the top 10 of their events, according to results from parent Lisa Phelps.
"Tim Maczko swam to eighth place in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 1:07.96," Phelps reported. "He also swam the 50-yard freestyle and hit the wall grabbing 11th place with a time of 30.12. Eric Phelps swam the 500-yard freestyle in 5:40.84 for the first-place win. He also grabbed fourth place in the 100-yard backstroke with a 1:02.67, both best times for this freshman swimmer. Senior Kaitlyn Mowery powered through the water to grab 13th place in the 100-yard freestyle with an impressive time of 1:23.80, and she then took home 13th place in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:47.72. Freshman Alison Maczko continues to show great ability with a 19th place in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 38.88. She then hit the wall, grabbing 18th place in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 1:27.28. Abigail Bailey swam a great race of the 100-yard butterfly, putting up a time of 1:59.93, taking home eighth place. She was back in the pool swimming the 100-yard freestyle to take 19th place with a 1:49.10."
The swimmers were back in competition last weekend at a "mega-swim meet," the Bobcat Invitational, at University of New Hampshire (host team is Oyster River High School). Results were pending on that meet.
Phelps said the Laconia High swim team includes six members from Laconia and a group from Winnisquam.
"The school used to help out, because they gave the coach a stipend. The swim team members have always had to pay a little bit of money, and that paid for the pool," Phelps said.
Then, budget cuts took a hefty toll. "We've made it work," Phelps said.
Phelps credited Greg Hough, volunteer coach.
"He's a great coach. I think he's really helped the team. He's tried to get them all to do the different strokes."
Phelps also gave a nod to Kozens, saying after the high school swim team was cut, she met with him to ask if parents could continue the team if it was self-funded.
"A couple of us parents got together to think of how we could keep the team swimming. I got prices for pool rental fees and was able to find a coach who is volunteering his time. We had the kids put out a sign-up list to figure out the amount of interest. We didn't fund raise. We split the pool rental fees between all the swimmers," Phelps recalled. "The team T-shirt was donated by the Mowery family, who has a senior daughter swimming. Fortunately for us, coach Kozens has been great. He allowed us to keep the team under the NHIAA by paying the entry fee. I think it has worked out. The kids are swimming, competing and having a great season."
Hough said the swim team practices at a four-lane saltwater pool at the Gunstock Inn and Resort in Gilford. ("They've been gracious and wonderful and nice," he said.)
"A couple of the parents actually called Gunstock Inn to find out what was needed to revive the team. I brought it to the athletic director, and he had a discretionary budget, so he was able to get us into the meets," Hough recalled. "The next thing I know we were on."
Nine swimmers are able to use two lanes for practices. "It's been 100 percent group effort," Hough said. Although Hough said he doesn't get paid, parents cover the considerable costs of pool time and gear.
"It's very expensive for the kids, so the meet fees would have been another burden," he said, also extending appreciation to Kozens.
Athletic cuts are a part of school life, Hough acknowledged, but he said, "Your varsity sports, I just figured those would be safe no matter what they were."
Lower-participation sports such as swimming fill a niche, he said.
"Not every kid can or is inclined to take a hit or run around a track or chuck a ball through a hoop," Hough said.
"We're trying to keep it alive hoping that someone will pay attention and put some money into this thing," he said.
Laconia High ski team also relies on creative fundraising.
For the first time this year, Kevin Charleston trains the Laconia High skiers along with his Belmont High team, where he has coached for 14 years.
Charleston said, "It has been an advantage for both of these teams to train together," noting that alpine skiing is a "collegial sport."
Laconia has a "super rich history" when it comes to alpine or downhill skiing, Charleston said.
"We are competing for a plaque. We are competing for a state title," he said.
At 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25, Laconia High and Belmont High alpine ski teams will compete at Gunstock for a Gilford High School-hosted event.
- Category: Local Sports
- Hits: 10