WESTFALL - With practices already underway the Delaware Valley girls’ swim team knows it has a lot to live up to this year. Coming off of a landmark 11-3 season, the swimmers know all eyes are going to be on them when the winter season kicks off. Head coach Vicki Zielazny takes it all in stride. “I have been coaching the girls’ varsity since 1994 so I have been here a long time,” the coach said. “And in that time we have grown a lot.” Part of that growth has been the integration of upcoming youths. “We do have an age group program that the kids come up from, and that has been a big help for us. Right now, we have 160 kids involved, boys and girls. Right after the high school practice is over we have age group practice,” Zielazny said. “We are not like a lot of USS teams where we do a lot of yards. I don’t have the facility to do that. But we do a lot of drills and we work on their strokes. It is a good program. Mainly what we do is teach them all about competitive swimming. If they develop more of an interest, at least more than I can provide for them then they go on to a USS team. And we have had that.” Working with the youths has paid dividends. “Over time our program has become more competitive. So now it is a harder program. We used to only do a little bit of swimming,” Zielazny said. “But we have increased everything and it has shown. The girls did very well last year. We came in second at districts. And that was a real coup for us.” Zielazny knows this year’s team has its share of challenges. “We lost some seniors to graduation last year,” the coach said. “And those seniors were big point getters. But we have a group of new freshman who we are hoping to step up to the bar.” Even though they have holes to fill, the girls’ squad has their share of returners. “Most of the kids that we have here are from our age group program. We have most of our kids returning this year,” Zielazny said. “And we have a new senior from Virginia. So I am interested in seeing what she can do for us. I have no idea what she is going to be doing. That will be a nice thing.” With such a mix of talent and experience at her disposal, Zielazny has a clear picture of where she sees her squad going this winter. “I look and see what I have and then I set goals realistically. And this year, I think we have the potential to achieve what we had last year. Last year we were 11-3. And we were able to defeat Abbington Heights,” the coach said. “We link up with them in January, so we have plenty of time to prepare and swim and really work. We have some tough, tough meets in December. Depending on who they have will affect what we can do. But we have a lot of talent. Our whole first two lanes are point getters. We will definitely be over .500 and I am hoping to at least reach 9-4.” Russ Crespolini is the online editor for Straus Newspapers and can be reached at 845-782-4000 ext. 352 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.