VERONA, NJ - What started out as therapy for a back injury, turned into a passion for Verona High School swimmer Joshua Vargas.  Though he has only been swimming competitively for a short time, Vargas has proven to be a leader for the young VHS boys swim team.  For his dedication and work ethic Vargas is the TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove Hillbilly Athlete of the Week.

“Josh is one of the captains for the boys team and has seen some nice improvement in his 50 free time this week,” said Head Coach Jacquline Iannucci.  “More importantly, he has an amazing work ethic and passion for doing well. At a swim meet, if he is not competing, he can be seen cheering on his teammates.”

The VHS swim program is only in its third year, and Vargas, a junior, only started swimming as a sophomore, but found it was a sport he loved.

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“I started because I had a back injury and I knew it would help strengthen my back and I stuck with it because I really liked it,” Vargas said.  “I really love swimming. It’s become really important to me.”

As a young team, it can be difficult for Verona to compete against some larger programs in the area.  Small numbers make it hard to score points and win meets, but Vargas said what they lack in size they make up for in spirit.  

“Not just this season, but overall things can be difficult for the boys team because we have low numbers.  The way swim works is you get points for placing 1st through 5th,” Vargas noted. “Because we have a smaller number of swimmers that makes it hard to fill up the lanes, but we all really work hard and try our best at every meet and most importantly we always have fun.”

Mixed in with the fun is a lot of hard work.  Being a member of the VHS swim team requires a certain level of dedication--6 a.m. practices three times a week is no joke, but Vargas takes it in stride.  

“It can be tough getting up early for practice, but that’s just part of swimming.  Every sport can be tough -- track meets can be long and you’re out in the elements.  It is what it is and you just do what you have to do when it’s a sport you love and something you really care about,” Vargas said.  

Though his team may not have a winning record, Vargas is proud of the team’s work ethic and has bigger goals than simply winning.  

“The biggest strength of our team is the support we give each other.  We’re really just a big family, both the boys and the girls teams. We’re always together, we’re always cheering each other on,” Vargas said.  “My personal goal and I hope the goal of the whole team is just to better ourselves, not only as swimmers but as people too. Supporting each other and bonding with each other and hopefully getting better times and winning meets.”

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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