NORWALK -- Norwalk's Zeus swim team might not be the biggest around but there's certainly no shortage of specialists to swim the breaststroke, freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and anything else that is tossed the team's way. The team's pool of talent has been recognized with 17 swimmers earning spots in Connecticut Swimming's Top 16 honors list for the 2010-2011 year.
"It's a pretty big number considering the size of our team. It's a small team in comparison to many other teams in Fairfield County and in the state," said Zeus coach Omar Cruz, adding that the club team has 120 participants, whereas many opposing squads boast deeper lineups of 200-or-so competitors. "We have a bunch of kids who want to swim, and swim well--and families who support the team."
The Zeus squad features six age groups ranging from 10-and-under, up to the 17-18-year-old group.
Criteria for the selections by CT Swimming included athletes earning top 16 times compiled from all meets over the span of the 2010-2011 short course season and the 2011 long course season.
Liam Colleran (10), Lindsay Dell'Isola (12), Olivia Fasset (12), Anthony Dell'Isola (14), Eddie Donovan (14), Katie Wargo (14), Brian Cardona (14), Olivia Haskell (14), Paige DeLago (14), Alejandro Ramos (14), Lauren Czulewicz (15), Nick Wargo (15), Stephanie Czulewicz (16), Andres Ramos (16), Jillian Carter (18), Meredith Pramer (18), and Rachel Smolensky (18), all earned top 16 placement.
Carter, who graduated from Greenwich's Convent of the Sacred Heart, and Pramer, who finished off her career at Norwalk High last year, earned the added honor of being named Connecticut Scholar Athletes.
The Zeus team, which competes both locally and nationally, has received numerous honors in the past including an eighth-place ranking in the state and a second-place finish in the Sunkissed Championships in North Carolina.
Pramer, now a swimmer at Providence College, and Carter, who is at Georgetown, both swim the 100- and 200-yard butterfly events, as well as the 200 individual medley. They practice hard with their new teams, and now specialize in their top events. Both swimmers got a chance to develop their skills and find out what they were best at while growing in the Zeus program.
"It's what I like to do so that's been really nice. I've definitely noticed more improvement," Carter said of focusing on the butterfly and individual medley events.
Both competitors are freshmen who plan to come back to swim with the Zeus team during school breaks, including the long summer hiatus before the start of their second collegiate campaign.
"It would be a waste to go home and throw away all that training," Carter said of the importance of staying active in the pool with the Zeus team during her collegiate offseason.
"It'll keep me in shape when I come to school in the fall," Pramer added.
In addition to Cruz, the team is also coached by Dennis Flores. Zeus swims out of the Norwalk High natatorium and the Norwalk YMCA. The coaches have a chance to work with swimmers from their first days in the pool through their high school careers, and then some.
"I have lots of fun. We practice every day--I get to see the kids grow," said Cruz, who has coached the team for the last decade.