New coach, approach for Shenendehowa girls’ swimming and diving team

Team members listen to instructions during a Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016 Shenendehowa girls' swimming and diving team practice. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)Team members listen to instructions during a Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016 Shenendehowa girls' swimming and diving team practice. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

BY MICHAEL KELLY
Gazette Sportswriter

CLIFTON PARK — After a successful tenure following the leadership of one head coach, the transition this preseason for the Shenendehowa girls’ swimming and diving team has been a smooth one.

Sandy Stanislowsky, who has several decades of coaching experience, has taken control of the Plainsmen this year from Chuck Dunham, who compiled a 66-3 record in Suburban Council meets over the course of seven seasons leading the Plainsmen. Dunham — who will still coach the Shenendehowa boys’ squad this winter — also led the girls’ squad to four Section II Division I team championships in his seven seasons, including a title last year.

“It’s definitely been different. Sandy has different kinds of sets for us to do, but I think it will be beneficial for us,” Shenendehowa senior swimmer Lindsay Lassetter said of the Plainsmen’s 2016 preseason compared to past ones. “It’s different, but it’s good.”

Lindsay Lassetter glides through the water during a Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016 Shenendehowa girls' swimming and diving team practice. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Lindsay Lassetter glides through the water during a Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016 Shenendehowa girls’ swimming and diving team practice. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Stanislowsky — who coaches alongside Dunham during the club season with the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Piranhas — has stressed perfecting technique this preseason, trying to make each swimmer more accountable for herself in the pool.

“What we’re trying to do is train them to better understand how they control their body,” Stanislowsky said.

Riley Kowalczyk readies to start a lap during a Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016 Shenendehowa girls' swimming and diving team practice. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Riley Kowalczyk readies to start a lap during a Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016 Shenendehowa girls’ swimming and diving team practice. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

That focus has meant swimmers have put in less overall yardage at this point in the season than in past years. The Plainsmen have accepted that change and have taken on the challenge of trying to better fine-tune their strokes.

“She does a lot with technique and that’s her main thing with us. She wants us to be the best people, technique-wise, in the pool,” Shenendehowa sophomore swimmer Lauren Sposili said. “When our technique is at its best, we’ll be the best.”

That preseason focus on technique has also helped the Shenendehowa swimmers grow closer together.

“Sandy always tells us that if someone’s stroke isn’t looking their best, to help them,” Sposili said. “We’ve bonded a lot through that and gotten closer that way. … That’s made us more aware of each other.”

MacKenzie Cerny is shown during a Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016 Shenendehowa girls' swimming and diving team practice. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

MacKenzie Cerny is shown during a Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016 Shenendehowa girls’ swimming and diving team practice. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Shenendehowa — which is scheduled to start its Suburban Council season with an Aug. 31 meet at Niskayuna and a Sept. 7 home opener against Albany — will have another chance for its swimmers to bond closer at the start of October. That’s when the team’s athletes will head to the 41st annual Eastern States Swim Clinic in New Jersey, a trip Stanislowsky has put together.

“We’ve had great support for it,” Stanislowsky said.

At the Oct. 1-2 clinic, Shenendehowa athletes will get the chance to learn from 2016 U.S. Olympic swimming team head coaches Bob Bowman (men) and Dave Marsh (women), in addition to others.

“It’s going to be such a good experience for us,” Sposili said. “We’re going to be in the same area as Olympians and just seeing how they swim — seeing their technique — that’ll help us. We’re all really excited for that.”

About the Author

Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly is a sports reporter for Your Clifton Park and Your Niskayuna, weekly print publications of The Daily Gazette. Kelly grew up in Clifton Park and graduated from Shenendehowa High School in 2006. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. Kelly's work has been honored by the New York News Publishers Association, the New York State Associated Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. His work has previously been featured in The (Amsterdam) Recorder, The Saratogian, and Albany Times Union.