Boys swim programs in the Macomb Area Conference Gold Division may be breathing a sigh of relief these days, as it has been announced that Warren Cousino will be moving to the MAC Blue next season.
Cousino won its third consecutive MAC Gold division meet championship this season, while also capturing its second dual-meet title in the last three years.
The three-year run the Patriots are enjoying is the best any swim program has experienced at the school, and the kind of history they are making is just fine with coach Scott MacDonald.
“It’s very significant the way the swim program’s been developing over the last four years,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of (the) swim team. They did everything they were asked to do in practices, even when it created conflict between myself and the kids — them being tired and me asking them to push themselves a little harder. They did it. And they did it for the reason that they wanted to win another championship as a team.
“Everybody knows you can win something individually, but when you win it as a team, it just feels better.”
Three consecutive MAC Gold championships can go a long way toward helping to establish a standard of excellence, and according to MacDonald, those coming through the swim program are embracing the raised expectations that have come as a result of the team’s successful run.
“When a team’s winning, and kids are part of that winning team, they want to start contributing,” he said. “The fact that we have won makes the kids that are on the team want to win more, which means they want to train harder, because the more they win, the harder it is to win the next one because everybody knows.
“All the other teams are trying to do their best to beat you — you don’t get to be the underdog anymore. You have to take everything in stride and work toward that championship.”
The seniors on Cousino’s swim team helped play a role in laying down a new foundation for the program, and their effort may continue to reap dividends for the Patriots for years to come. Mike Freckelton, Jeremy Pigula, Zach Thomas, Paul Stabile, Gregg Lettang, Brandon Carnaghi, Alex Pattyn and MacKenzie Krolcyk may be moving on, but not without the appreciation of a coach, who is in his fourth year at the helm and watched them help establish his program.
“My seniors pretty much brought everything,” he said. “That was my first four-year class. That same core group has been part of what’s helped us win, and this year, they were the major factor in what helped us win. Before, they were successful, but this year they really stepped up. They proved how fast they can be and how much they wanted to win.”
Although MacDonald may have to part company with some on his roster, one he does not have to say goodbye to yet is junior diver Jacob Johnson, who finished first at the division meet this season while taking ninth at the state meet.
With the return of Johnson next season, along with some swimmers who have already been a part of Cousino’s championship run, MacDonald is hoping that the Patriots can make a big splash when they enter the MAC Blue Division next season.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” he said. “That’s what I wanted to have for the team. They keep moving up — kids keep getting better. When you move into the Blue Division, you get a little more recognition for the kids, because swimming is not a high-recognition sport. The higher level they compete at, the more successful they can be (and) the more people are going to notice.”