NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – When it comes to swimming, Northbridge High and Grafton High students don’t compete — they join forces. All of them are members of the Northbridge High School swim team coached by Denise Foster.
She formed the team as a club in 2008, but it gained varsity status in 2009.
Foster, who has been swimming since the age of 6, started to teach swimming in 1997 and was head swim coach at Holliston High School for 10 years. After moving to Whitinsville, the community center became her second home, Foster said.
“I started as a parent and then soon became a swim coach for Whitinsville Blue Dolphins, which is now Crimson Aquatics, a year-round USA swim team that places very well in USA meets.
“We had one swimmer attend the Olympic trials last year,’’ Foster said. “If I am not at the pool, I am cleaning houses or being a mom or training myself for a half Ironman this year."
School competitions began the Monday after Thanksgiving and continue to the end of February vacation. There are 12 league meets, which are coed, and sectional and state competitions, where boys and girls are separated, Foster said.
Most afternoons, 20 NHS team members – 14 from Northbridge and six from Grafton — train in the competition pool at Whitin Community Center.
Late Saturday afternoon, bleachers on one side of the pool were filled and the overflow crowd stood around or sat on plastic chairs set up around the pool’s perimeter. Spectators cheerd on their favorite swimmers as Northbridge took on Westborough.
As an added bonus – Colby Foster qualified for the state competition in the 100 freestyle with a time of 51.72.
In the overall competition that day, Westborough bested Northbridge, 85-80. In the 200 medley relay, Northbridge came in first with a time of 1:56.30 with members Foster, Alyssa Murray, Brian Brennan and Ron Ekberg. Ekberg took first place in the 50 freestyle in a time of 24, and Brennan came in first in the 200 freestyle in 2:06.77.
In a meet against Leominster mid-week, Northbridge came out on top, 87-83.
Foster qualified for sectionals in the 50 freestyle in 23.63, for states in the 50 freestyle in 23.62 and for sectionals in the 100 backstroke in 1:02.34.
Ekberg, the team captain, was a double winner in the 100 fly and 500 freestyle. Murray came in first in the 100 breaststroke in 1:18.72. The team of Morgan Martel, Brennan, Ekberg and Foster won the 400 freestyle relay.