VERONA, NJ - Just two short years ago, Verona High School’s first swim team took to the pool and Renata Curcio was part of that first team. In 2018, she received the Coach’s Award and earned her varsity letter and in 2019 she was recognized with the Player’s Player Award. As co-captain this season she serves as mentor and leader for the young team -- her work ethic and willingness to step up for her team makes Curcio the TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove Hillbilly Athlete of the Week.

“Renata is one of my senior captains and I can count on her to be at every practice, encouraging her teammates at swim meets, and helping to make sure important information reaches all of our swimmers,” said Head Coach Jacqueline Iannucci.  “She is also willing to swim the events that are harder to field like the 200 IM and the 500 freestyle, which most swimmers avoid due to their length and difficulty.”  

Though she’s been swimming since childhood, Curcio didn’t begin swimming competitively until 2014 when she joined the Verona Waves summer team.  VHS didn’t have a team her freshman year, but she jumped at the chance to swim for her school when the team was launched in 2017.  

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“It’s been really special being part of the first Verona High School swim team.  I remember our first practice and our first meet. I really love my team and I don’t know what I would do in the winter if I didn’t swim,” Curcio said.  “Our coach the first year established a super supportive environment and that’s just continued every year since.”

As a young team, the Hillbillies swim team sometimes struggles against larger teams, but has shown improvement every year.  

“This season has been going ok so far.  We’ve definitely grown a lot since the first day of practice.  We haven’t won a meet yet, but that’s OK. We’re a small team and this is only our third year and everyone is really working hard to improve,” Curcio explained.  “We had a meet last night, and we came so close to winning. It fell through, but everyone was so supportive of each other. I think that everyone improving individually is equally important, if not more important than winning.”

To keep improving, the VHS swim team gets up and meets at 6 a.m. three days a week for practice and holds two dry land practices a week after school.  Curcio says the morning practices are a great experience, despite the early hour and the schedule has helped her work on balancing her sport with her school work.  She hopes to continue with that balance next year when she attends The College of New Jersey, planning to continue to swim at the club level.  

However, there is still a lot of season left and Curcio hopes to finish her VHS swimming career on a positive note.  

“Obviously the main goal is to improve as much as we can both individually and as a team.  I remember one of our former teammates who swam club said the goal was for us all to reach counties one day,” Curcio said.  “Well we aren’t all going to make counties this year, but I just hope that we keep improving and having a good time. It’s been a really fun experience.”

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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