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On the Beat Swim: Hart's rich past is present

Posted: May 6, 2014 10:18 p.m.
Updated: May 6, 2014 10:18 p.m.
 

Heading into Foothill League finals on Thursday, the Hart Indians will have more than just a legacy behind it, it will have experience.

Not from the swimmers themselves, though, that surely exists with a plethora of talented juniors and seniors ready to hit the pool.

But the experience mentioned here comes from the coaching staff, with all four members representing different eras of Hart swim.

It starts at the top with head coach Steve Neale, who according to the team’s website, was a member of the first swim team in school history.

That was in 1970, and Neale, then a high school senior, was the team’s captain.

Also on the coaching staff is Becky Cianessi, who swam at Hart all four years and was CIF champion in the 50-yard freestyle race.

Now, Cianessi is imparting her wisdom on the current crop of Hart swimmers, a group desperately trying to hold on to the Foothill League title with Valencia breathing right down their necks.

“It’s a great fit,” Neale said. “They all know the culture which is important in high school.”

Recent graduates Robyn Burton, who swam for Hart in the early 2000s and Jordan Danny, who graduated in 2009 and went on to swim at the University of Southern California, can also be found on the pool deck donning their Hart High coaching staff shirts.

The quartet was on the pool deck at Tuesday’s Foothill League prelims, and will surely be as invested in Thursday’s final results as the kids themselves.

“It all means something to them,” Neale said. “They all come from different generations (of Hart swim).”

And that idea that every meet matters is something that Hart seems to take pride in.

Often times club swimmers struggle to divide their attention between their club obligations and high school meets.

Often this is through no real fault of their own, but there are only so many hours in the day, and many of the top swimmers can’t be at all their high school meets. As a result, they often prioritize their club results over the high school team.

The Indians, though, seem to have found a winning formula.

“Matt Johnson is a total team player. A great club guy. If it’s important for him to be at this meet, it’s important for anybody. If it’s important for Cole Cogswell, it’s important for every JV swimmer,” said Neale, using Johnson and Cogswell as an example of many of the Indians’ club swimmers.

And a lot of that culture can be attributed to the experiences of his coaching staff.

Everyone on the Hart staff knows exactly what it’s like to represent the Indians, and that experience has manifested itself already this season as Hart’s club swimmers are among the first to cheer on their teammates at high school meets.

“It’s neat,” Neale said.” High school swim is still important, it still evokes passion from our elite athletes.”

And that’s a lesson learned from a coaching staff that can truly say it was once in the same boat as the current crop of red-and-black-donned swimmers.

“It means a lot being there,” Johnson said. “A lot of kids look up to us to show them what they can become and what they can accomplish.”

And it’s easy to see how they can all look up to their high school coaching staff — a staff comprised fully of former Indians.

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