SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – The Lakeland-Panas-Putnam Valley boys swimming team won their fifth consecutive meet to start the season with a 54-39 win over Yorktown-Somers on Tuesday, Jan. 7.

The Rebels suffered their first defeat two days later in a battle of undefeated teams, losing to White Plains, 87-82.

With 34 swimmers, many of whom swim year-round, Lakeland-Panas has both talent and depth, said coach Patrick Connolly.

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“Out of the years that I’ve coached, I’ve had strong swimmers, but this is the strongest team,” Connolly said. “We have talent behind that depth. It’s not like we just have numbers.”

Only five of the 34 swimmers are seniors. Almost half (16) are freshmen or younger.

“It’s a good group of guys,” Connolly said. “Kids are just passing their knowledge on, their experience on. It’s just guys helping out one another.”

Even in defeat last week, Connolly said he was encouraged by what he saw from his young team.

“We could have folded [against White Plains] but we fought," Connolly said. "I’m hoping they’re super motivated after the loss.”

Connolly expects his young team will continue to keep growing and improving this year and beyond.

“This is going to be a team to be reckoned with in the future,” Connolly said.

The Rebels have a few more meets, including a senior meet on Jan. 22 at Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School, before the postseason begins.

“The effort is always there,” Connolly said. “Divisionals should be interesting.”

One of the biggest challenges for Connolly is putting his swimmers in the best position to pick up the most points for the team. With 34 swimmers and about a dozen events per meet, Connolly can mix and match, playing off his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

“It gets challenging from a coaching standpoint,” Connolly said.

Unable to laud the abilities of all 34 of his swimmers, the coach singled out a few of his top performers and leaders for helping the Rebels achieve their 5-1 start:

  • Senior co-captain Jack Pagle: “He’s been on the team since he’s been in seventh grade. He’s always been a talented swimmer but he’s starting to grow into his body. He’s always willing to step up to his challenges.”
  • Junior Steven Macaluso: “He’s had a breakthrough year. He’s always been a talented swimmer but he’s taking it to another level.”
  • Freshman Gabriel Rzezwicki: “He’s rather young, but he leads by example. I can put him in so many different places.”
  • Senior Anthony Marvucic and junior Ethan White: “Anthony and Ethan are great leaders. They’re almost like another coach.”