Kearny boys’ swim team enjoys record-breaking campaign


Photo by Jim Hague/ The Kearny High School boys’ swim team enjoyed a solid 13-3 season, the best in the school’s history. Front row, from left, are head coach Scott Fuchs, Luke Miller, Matt Amar and John Stahl. Middle row, from left, are Patrick Carbajal and Mateo Caceres. Back row, from left, are Sid Naik, Adam Coppolla and Gabriel Zanandrea.


By Jim Hague

Before the 2011-2012 high school swimming season began, Kearny High School head coach Scott Fuchs set a goal for his boys’ team.

“We made 13 wins our goal,” said Fuchs, who recently completed his 10th year as the coach of the swim team. “We predicted that from the first day. I knew that this team overall had our best swimmers, our fastest swimmers. The whole team is made of standouts.”

True to form, the Kardinals posted a 13-3 record, the best mark in the program’s history. The only matches that the Kardinals lost this season were to teams that have club swimmers, competitors who swim all year long.

“It’s a credit to our three captains who provided great leadership,” Fuchs said of seniors Luke Miller, John Stahl and Wesley Rivera. “They had such good work ethic and it carried over to the rest of the team. They’ve been the dominant forces for the last four years and everyone had the desire to be like them. We developed a winning swim program because of them.”

Fuchs spoke of how difficult it is to have a competitive team facing squads that are able to swim all year long.

“We start racing right as the season starts and we had a bunch of new kids,” Fuchs said. “So a lot of the kids started working on their own, going to the pool on their own in the fall. It’s definitely not easy.”

But Fuchs had a sense it was going to be a fine season, when the Kardinals started to shatter school records from the outset.

“In the first meet, we broke a school record,” Fuchs said. “That showed me how ready they were and how determined they were. The first day they were competitively in the water, they set a record. It showed me how much work they put in on their own.”

The Kardinals went on to finish second in the Hudson County Public School championships to Union City and fourth overall. They won the Urban Relays and the Kearny Carnival Invitational team titles. They defeated teams like Union, Plainfield and Elizabeth that the Kardinals were never able to compete with in the past.

And when the smoke cleared, the Kardinals broke a total of eight records this season, an almost unconscionable thought.

Junior Matt Amar shattered four records – the 500-meter freestyle, the 200-meter freestyle and was part of both the 200 and 400-meter freestyle relays.

“He has a very bright future and college coaches are going to want to come and see him,” Fuchs said.

It was only the second year that Amar has been swimming. He joined the team after his older brother, Samy, a former Kearny standout, encouraged him to try the sport.

“Samy was the one who pushed me,” Amar said. “He broke a lot of school records, so when I joined, I wanted to be able to be better than him. He’s one of the best swimmers ever at Kearny, so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to beat him. But I’ve already broken four records and that’s amazing. I’m really happy about that. I’m also happy with the way I’ve improved. I wasn’t that good of a swimmer last year. I think my teammates helped to push me through to get better.”

Amar knows that his future is very bright.

“I now know that I can be a very good swimmer,” Amar said. “I want to get better. I’m going to continue to work. Now that we have a good swimming program in Kearny, I want to keep it going.”

Miller was part of both the 200 and 400-meter freestyle relays that set new records.
“He’s definitely the most determined and the most disciplined swimmer we have,” Fuchs said. “He was always able to pull the others through everything.”

Miller was pleased with his performance and the rest of the team as well.

“This was the best season I’ve ever had,” Miller said. “We’ve all grown together and the depth of the team now is really great. We never had that when I started. It’s a great lasting memory to have that we did so well. It’s always good to have those memories. It’s something that’s always there. But I hope someone comes along and takes those records away from me.”

Stahl set records in the 200-meter medley relay and the 200-meter intermediate, breaking the records of Samy Amar.

“In all my years swimming, I just wanted to make it a better team,” Stahl said. “We were able to get others to push themselves this year and that’s very rewarding. It feels good to know that this was just the beginning to make this program bigger and better.”

Others to break new school records this season include Adam Coppolla, who broke the 100-meter backstroke; Mateo Caceres, who broke the 100-meter freestyle and was part of both freestyle relays; Gabriel Zanandrea, who was also part of both freestyle relays, as well as Patrick Carbajal and Sid Naik.

Fuchs knows that this team was a trailblazer for future Kearny swim teams to follow.

“They raised the bar, no question,” Fuchs said. “They set the standards that will make Kearny stronger and better in the future. We’re a team, a force to be reckoned with now. These kids helped to put Kearny swimming on the map.”

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