Mount Anthony swim coach honored at final home meet
BENNINGTON — As the four senior Mount Anthony swimmers were honored on Senior Day, the day was a bit bittersweet for coach Anna Swierad.
After 15 years as the only coach the MAU swim team has ever had, Swierad will step away at the end of the season.
"It's pretty cool to be a part of [the last home meet]," said senior Phebe Hall. "Bridget [Ahearn], Kevin [Gorry] and Andrew [Spencer] all started in seventh grade with her and she's been with us for six years, so to end our senior year with her final year is cool."
Pittsfield swept the event, with the girls taking a 95-75 victory, while the boys won 104-33.
But most of the talk afterward was about Anna and her husband Ken.
"It was amazing, being with Anna for such a long time," Gorry said. "She's a great coach and everything she does has made us better. It's been awesome to have her as my coach. Out of the pool, you learn from here what to do outside, in terms of managing the team as a captain, how to handle people and different situations."
Swierad became emotional as the seniors were honored during the break and then athletic director Tim Brown said a few words and presented the Swierads with a plaque and a varsity letter.
"I was tense for a while there," Swierad said. "It's been rewarding, no matter if a kid is a top swimmer of just doing it to do it, they are such a reward to me, they make me feel special. It means a lot to me that I could build that program and I did it with Ken."
On the girls side, Swierad's seniors were strong, with Ahearn winning both her individual events — the 50 and 100 free and both relays she entered. Hall did the same, winning the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke. The other individual winner was Jena Staab, while Savannah Robson and Shaana Staab was victorious with the relays.
"The girls were so close, they did such a nice job," Swierad said. "What's important is depth, we're doing very well, we just need a couple more to fill. They can only swim [so many events]."
The boys struggled a bit with depth as well, but there were a plethora of good times, including Zach LaForest winning the 100 freestyle and earning a runner-up finish in the 100 backstroke.
The relay team of Caden Watson, Gorry, Owen Denue and LaForest were also second in the 400 free relay.
"We went out there and tried to do the best we could to make Anna proud at the last home meet," Gorry said. "Being with this team since seventh grade, I'm sad to leave this behind, I'm glad I stuck with it."
Swierad still has the final meet of the regular season on Friday and then the individuals at Simon's Rock, but she's content on where the program is now.
"We've had lots of support from my family, the community, the school and to see what it has become has been really rewarding," Swierad said. "It's a good time to step away, now we can enjoy our family."