CUMBERLAND --– For the past four decades, the face of Cumberland High swimming has been Bruce Calvert. During his long tenure as the Clippers’ head coach, he produced an abundance of all-state athletes and a combined 13 state crowns (boy and girls).
Calvert no longer patrols the CHS pool, retiring from his longtime post in November only a few months after doing the same as the school’s aquatic director.
The new face for the Blue and White now belongs to Heidi Josephson, a former swimmer for Calvert as a youth and at the high school level. Josephson, a 1985 graduate of Cumberland, talked about her transition as coach during Friday’s Division I meet with 21-time defending state champion Bishop Hendricken.
“You are trying to step into some really big shoes,” she said. “But I got to say, Bruce has been as helpful as he can be. He’s always available when I need to run something past him. ‘How would you do this? How would you do that?’ That kind of thing. He’s been wonderful. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. I had volunteered for him for three different years in the last 20 years so I know his style. I know his ethics about swimming and what makes a good swim team.”
So far this winter, Josephson’s Clippers boast 1-2 records for both the boys’ and girls’ teams in the state’s highest division. Combined, the Clippers have 31 swimmers, including 13 on the boys’ squad.
“The boys are having a good year despite the fact that we don’t have huge numbers,” Josephson said. “Some teams come in and have like 24 boys and we have 13. It certainly helps to have more bodies. Our team doesn’t really club swim, (except) Andrew Bauer…Most of the team swims for three or four months out of the year so it’s really remarkable, I think, how well they do in that three- or four-month period versus the teams that have people who club swim year round and never get out of shape.”
In yesterday’s meet, only the boys’ team competed and fell to the powerful Hawks by a score of 61-33. Cumberland earned two individual victories with sophomore Andrew Bauer capturing the 50-yard freestyle with an outstanding clocking of 23.63 seconds and senior Mike Redihan coasting to a win in the 100 breaststroke with his time of 1:11.56.
Considering that her Clippers were competing against a squad that has not only won the last 21 state titles but has also compiled a dual-meet record of 76-1 since the 2001-02 season, Josephson was satisfied with her team’s performance and wasn’t overly concerned about the final score.
“Really it’s the same for all meets,” she said. “For me and for them, it’s really about how are they doing against themselves. I want to see them improve. I want to see their personal-best (times) drop. All we can do is work on improving in Cumberland, improvement for everyone on the team. Today we had a kid, Mike Constantino, he didn’t win his race but he dropped a second off his 100 butterfly (with his time of 1:04). That’s real important as we move to the divisionals and the states. I want to see where these kids are so I can see them be the best as what they can be. That’s what our goal always is. That usually turns out to be pretty good.”
In winning his event, Bauer registered one of the top times in the state in the 50 freestyle. He also swam on a pair of second-place relay squads with his legs on the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle.
Josephson feels the sky’s the limit for her promising tenth-grader in next month’s state championship, which will be held on Feb. 20 at URI.
“He should be right up there for whatever two events he chooses for the states,” Josephson said. “He’s going to be right up there. I don’t want to be quoted on will he get first. We’d like to see him get a win in both events or (finish) among the top. There are some strong guys across the board, not just from Hendricken, but from La Salle and a couple of other teams. The (50 freestyle) is a real photographer’s photo finish. It will be tenths or hundredths of a second that separate first through eighth.”
After a slow start from the blocks, Redihan quickly regained order in the 100 breaststroke, virtually leading from start to finish for the eight-lap race. Redihan also had a leg on the runner-up 4x400 freestyle relay squad.
Redihan was a few seconds off from his PR of 1:08 in the 100 breaststroke, set earlier this year.
“It wasn’t my best time,” Redihan said. “I think it was because this was just a guys’ meet versus having a girls’ meet too, like we usually do. I didn’t have much time in between events.”
Based on how he performed last year, Josephson has noticed dramatic improvement from Redihan that was partly due to his increased dedication.
“Mike has really come on this year,” she said. “I think he made a decision in the off-season to really kind of turn it on. I think he engaged himself into a really strict stretching and weight workout. He dropped like (30) pounds, which helps and turned whatever it is into muscle. He did a lot of technique work in the preseason. Now it’s really great. He’s one of those kids that have really been working hard and you see it start to pay off.”
Redihan admits his off-season worked has been a benefit this season.
“Right now I am in a lot better shape weight-wise as I was last year,” he said. “Last year I was like 210 pounds and now I’m like 180. I dieted and just added a few more things in my routine.”
The senior swimmer has high hopes next month.
“I’d like to place in the states,” Redihan said. “Overall, I’d like to have a good season with the team.”
Hendricken 61, Cumberland 33
50 freestyle – 1. Andrew Bauer, 23.63.
100 breaststroke – 1. Mike Redihan, 1:11.56
200 freestyle – 2. Redihan
100 butterfly – 2. Mike Constantino
200 freestyle relay – 2. C (Bauer, Constantino, Dan Crocker, Matt Redihan); 3. C (Alex Draper, Shane Simmons, Nadeem Shariff, Emery)
100 backstroke – 2. Dan O’Brien
400 freestyle relay – 2. C (O’Brien, Bauer, Mike Redihan, Matt Redihan); 3. C (Steve Towner, Alex Cardoso, Lucas Rundlett).
200IM – 3. Ben Emery
500 freestyle – 3. Matt Redihan