No home pool. No consistent pool time to practice. Just those two things, in and of themselves, could prove to be a huge detriment for any swimming team. Add to it the loss of four state-level talents due to graduation, and a coach might be wanting to pull his or her hair out.
Such is not the case for Indian River High School boys’ swimming coach Colin Crandell. He is back for his 12th season at the helm of the program, and there is no coach in the league — scratch that, in the state — that can prepare a swim team for a season without a pool like Crandell. He continuously gets his team — both the boys and the girls — prepared with rigorous land training that gets his athletes ready for competition like no other.
He is tasked with having to do the same thing this year for an Indians team that graduated Declan Burke, Zach Lingenfelter, R.J. Senseny and Jackson Donnell — all of whom were state qualifiers in the COVID-shortened 2020-2021 campaign. The Indians went 3-2 in their dual meets.
This year, Crandell will be looking for a new quartet to lead the way with senior Finn Bellistri (freestyle) and juniors Shane Hall (butterfly, breaststroke), Evan Peterson (individual medley, backstroke) and Max Forrey (butterfly, freestyle) all looking to take the step up as key returning members of the team. Junior Marcos Gonzalez and sophomore Alex Arnold are two other returning swimmers for the Indians this year.
“We are hoping to get as many state qualifiers as possible and build depth,” Crandell said. “We only have one senior,” he added of Bellistri, “so we are a young team. I want to lay the foundation for this year and next.”
Crandell has so many new faces, he is not yet sure who to really consider as a key newcomer just yet.
“Honestly, I not sure yet,” he said. “We have a lot of new swimmers to the sport, so we are waiting to see who will bloom.”
Those new swimmers include junior Gabe Clark, sophomores Maxwell Fadden, Tanner Hampton and Bodhi Sharpe, as well as freshmen Drew Barthelmess and Cade Donnelly.
Like the girls, the Indians’ boys will swim all their meets on the road this season. They will open their 2021-2022 campaign next Thursday, Dec. 9, at 6 p.m. against Polytech at the Lake Forest Aquatics Center. Their next two meets will be at the Sussex Academy pool against Cape Henlopen (Tuesday, Dec. 14) and Sussex Central (Friday, Dec. 17) at 6 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., respectively.