BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Berkeley Heights Community Pool swim team has a long history of being a competitive team in the North Jersey Summer Swim League, and with new head coach Meghan Guinee at the helm, this summer should be no different.
Guinee comes into this position well prepared, having been a competitive swimmer for the last 15 years. She got her start at the BHCP when she was five years old, and from there joined three different club teams before finally settling in at the Somerset Hills YMCA, where she finished out her high school career. She was a four-year varsity letter winner at Mount Saint Mary’s Academy and currently swims for Fairfield University’s Division 1 team.
While her sisters, Eileen and Brittany, were head coaches for the last five years at BHCP, Meghan was an assistant coach and is confident that that, plus her own swimming career, has equipped her with the knowledge to seamlessly transition into her new position.
“I would go to my morning long course practices and I would modify [those sets] for our swim team kids here, so they definitely got a legitimate practice in,” Meghan said. “[Eileen, Brittany and I] knew how to actually train swimmers and then we know really strong swimmers when we see them, obviously just through seeing competitive swimmers on our teams and I think that helps us make really good lineups for the meets.”
And while she may be the third sister to take over as head coach, Guinee brings her own style of coaching to practice.
“Everyone says that I’m a little bit more tough than my sisters in practice, but I actually think we’re all very similar,” Guinee said. “We’ve all helped each other throughout the years do the lineups and everything. The three of us all have similar coaching styles…and I’ve learned from them so it’s all pretty similar to how they’ve done it.”
Assisting Guinee this year will be Amanda Chin, Duylinh Vu, Kerry Sheridan and Matt Zarrelli. Eileen and Brittany will also be helping out as well.
New for this season is the “pre-team,” which consists of younger and/or new swimmers who don’t yet feel comfortable competing. The team is something that the BHCP used to have, and Guinee even competed on it herself when she was five.
“The minimum age [to swim] used to be seven so we made the pre-team for really little kids and any new kids who don’t feel comfortable competing,” Guinee said. “They come to practices and all the team functions, they come cheer everyone on at the meets, and they just don’t compete in any meets. It’s just if they’re too young or nervous. We actually have a lot of people on the pre-team just because meets [can be] so scary and everything.”
As the season kicks into full gear, Guinne has her sights set on the future. With the team already at 200 swimmers, she hopes that it will continue to grow and that BHCP will start to get a bigger reputation in the league. But before she gets ahead of herself, Guinee is looking forward to what is hopefully a victorious season, which has already kicked off with a win over Verona on Monday.
“My goal for the season is to win as many meets as possible,” Guinee said. “That really gets the kids excited and it motivates them in practice. And I want the kids to have as much fun as possible. Even if we do lose a meet, I want to be able to encourage the kids to still be able to have fun and to not be sore losers.”
For more information on the BHCP swim team, please visit bhcpool.com/swimteam.