WATERTOWN - The adjustment season is past for Holly Hanecak and the Watertown High School girls’ swimming and diving team.

It isn’t easy to fill the shoes of a legend, but Hanecak did just that in taking over after the retirement of Garry Smith, guiding the program through the COVID-plagued 2020 season; she hopes the 2021 signals a needed return to normalcy.

“I’m so excited to be back for my second year as coach,” said Hanecak, whose team of 2021 begans the season against Naugatuck High School on Friday, September 17 at the Smith Natatorium’s Reinhold Pool.

“The girls and I are looking forward to a great season,” Hanecak added. “We have many key returnees, a few new freshmen and some who have never swam before.

“I’m excited for actual dual meets and to have our parents and families in the stands,” said Hanecak.

The Indians’ co-captains this season are Mikaela Andarowski and Elizabeth Bird,, both of whom said Hanecak, “are key swimmers, very important to the team.” 

“Mikaela is a strong leader for this team and I’m confident in her ability to guide the new and younger swimmers,” said Hanecak. “She has worked hard in the off-season and looking for a great senior year for herself.”

Elizabeth is versatile and has and will swim anywhere the team has needed her to swim; she does what a captaihn and leader does; she is always cheering for her teammates,” said Hanecak.

Among the other key performers Hanecak will be counting on are seniors: Gabby Malenda, Janelle Rosario, and Marissa Saverino as well as juniors Emma Conard, Gianna Calbrese, Gianna Barry, Emily Kiernan, Jasmine Pham, Abby Gallagher and sophmores Nadia Andarowski as well as freshman Maggie HInes.

“I’m looking for solid swims from Maggie,” said Hanecak of the newcomer. “She is versatile and can swim anywhere I need her.

“Sophomore Nadia Andarowski is athletic and came up big for us in some key races last year; we’re looking for her to continue to grow.

“Emily is as focused as they come, and she works hard everyday,” said Hanecak. “I can always count on her to give me 110 percent at every practice and in every race.”

It’s easy to see that Hanecak, comfortable in her own skin and ability, has taken to her team and is emerging from the large shadow of Smith.

It’s her team and program now.

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