The roar of bodies thrashing in the water is deafening. The heat in the pool area is stifling, and the smell of the chlorine is overpowering. But for Delaware Valley boys’ swim coach Joe Kusner, there is no place he would rather be. “I enjoy the challenge and I enjoy working with the kids. It is very rewarding for me,” Kusner said. “You get to see success come through the work that they do. And that is always fun to do.” Kusner has been having this kind of fun for almost a quarter of a century. “I coached four years at Scranton Central as an assistant coach. I came out here to Delaware Valley and I have been here ever since,” Kusner said. “So this is my 19th year as head coach.” Although practices are just getting underway, Kusner and his squad are already setting goals for the season. “We have talked a little bit about what we have accomplished as a team. This is a season for us with a lot of expectations,” the coach said. “We had a successful year last year. We were 12-2. At our district championship we came 1.5 points short of winning our district title. So we felt that that season is continuing right into this one. We want to build on that and see what we can do.” In order to keep up the level of success, the coach knows there are issues that need to be addressed. “We graduated three seniors. Two of them were district qualifiers. They are obviously going to be difficult to replace, Kusner said. “But we have pretty good turnout this year. We have some new freshman as well as some upperclassmen who decided to come out this year. Hopefully they will be able to help us out.” Regardless of the new faces, Kusner knows he can rely on his four captains to set the tone for the year. “We expect all of our captains to be leaders. First is Rob Navarro. Rob has had some back trouble and was in and out of the pool. But he had some surgery, it is cleared up now and now he is back in the water. Next is Jeff White. Jeff does cross country. And now swimming. He is a very good breast stroke swimmer,” coach said. “We also have Mike Daggett who is another breast stroker. He finished second in districts last year in the breast stroke.” Kusner final captain, has already enlisted in military service. “Rusty Cook did his basic training over the summer because he enlisted this year. He is going into the military,” the swim skipper said. “He is an excellent swimmer. Those four guys provide a lot of good leadership for us and I am going to be counting on them for sure.” With several members of his squad multi-sport athletes, Kusner is diligent in making sure everyone is sufficiently prepared. “It doesn’t really matter if the kids participate in other sports or not because we have intramurals for kids who are not involved in other activities. So the kids who haven’t been doing that are catching up now,” Kusner said. “At this age, I think they should be capable of doing other things. If they go on to college, they are going to have to narrow what they want to do. We have a diverse group in the water.” Russ Crespolini is the online editor for Straus Newspapers and can be reached at 845.782.4000 ext. 352 or at email@example.com.