Depth Perception: ME Swim Team Makes Waves Despite Small Roster


One year removed from virtual meets against opponents and strict timing and spacing guidelines due to COVID, the Manchester Essex swim team has been able to come together as a team this winter.

Both the boys and girls’ teams are practicing together, and even participated in a co-ed meet against Masconomet in December together. Meets are in person and things are closer to what local swimmers would expect during team competition.

“It’s hard to get the excitement going when it’s just your own team in the pool,” explains ME swim coach Caitlin Eramo, now in her first year as head coach for both the boys and girls’ squads. “We still have some restrictions -- there are less spectators allowed than in past years, and we are running livestreams for some of our meets for those who are unable to attend. We have to wear masks for the whole pool deck, but we are able to come together and compete this year.”

So far, the team has been relatively unaffected by any COVID-related issues.

“For our very first meet, we were down to 12 swimmers, two for COVID cases and two for injuries,” says Eramo. “Other than that, we’ve only had one since then who was out for repeat quarantine, so it’s pretty good.”

Instead of the competition, the biggest challenge for both teams is a numbers game. There are eight members each on the boys and girls’ teams, with the total of 16 falling far short of teams the Hornets are competing against -- most other high school swim teams field rosters of 30-40.

And while there is real talent on this team and the Manchester Essex swimmers are doing a good job placing first or second in most events, there isn’t enough depth there to score points with other top-three finishes against those bigger teams. As a result, both the boys and girls’ teams are 1-2 so far this season, with the lone win against Masco an example of how effective this group would be with a bit more depth -- both squads were able to combine in the co-ed meet and pull out a victory.

“In our meet against Lynnfield, we won 16 out of 22 events,” explains Eramo. “The ones who didn’t get a win got a second, but we didn’t quite have enough depth to win. It’s something we’re looking to pick up in future seasons.”

The Hornets’ upcoming meet against Ipswich on January 21 should be a better indicator of teams at even strength -- the Tigers boast a roster of 20, not too far off from ME’s total of 16.

Another obstacle both teams have done a fine job working around is youth and inexperience. There are five seniors on the team, all five of which are captains. That leadership is needed as seven out of the 16 total swimmers on the roster are middle schoolers participating on a waiver.

“They make up a big chunk of the roster, and all of them are pretty strong,” says Eramo. “Despite being three, four years younger than the competition, they are really carrying our events and putting in a good effort.”

The senior leaders include Shea Furse, who can participate in most events and excels in the 100 backstroke. Furse has qualified for the states in every event she has participated in to this point.

Carson Komishane is the distance swimmer for the team, excelling in the 500 and 200 freestyle. Emma Ketchum is a versatile swimmer who focuses on freestyle and backstroke events and Aiden Cunningham is one of the best sprinters on the team, taking part in the 50 and 100 freestyle. Alex Briggs is another senior captain who hasn’t participated yet this season but is set to return for the Ipswich meet.

Those captains have helped to inspire and support younger standouts like sophomore Diego Sampson -- a key figure in freestyle and breaststroke events -- and middle-schoolers like Sidney Hemme.

“The captains have been extra helpful in showing everyone the ropes and getting the team amped up,” says Eramo.

caitlin eramo, aiden cunningham, emma ketchum, sidney hemme, carson komishane, diego sampson