Creatures from the chlorine lagoon

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Earlier this year, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy senior Britney Bishop had to make a choice that no high school athlete should be forced into. After helping the NSA basketball team to the conference championship the past two falls and setting a new TCIS record (24.51 seconds) in the 50-meter freestyle in swimming competition last winter (an accomplishment that, along with her victory in the 100-meter freestyle in the season-ending match, helped Bishop attain the TCIS Most Valuable Player award), the Lady Saint had to give up one of her most successful sports in her farewell year.

Unlike local public schools, NSA and the rest of the TCIS had typically played basketball in the fall and volleyball in the winter. But before the 2003-4 school year began, the division changed their ways, switching the two indoor court sports.

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Bishop selected a swimsuit over a caging uniform, strapped on her goggles and swim cap, and joined her teammates in the Suffolk YMCA pool. &uot;This is the sport that I’m better at, and I’ve been doing it all my life,&uot; she explained. &uot;Virginia Tech is looking at me to swim for them.&uot; Bishop hopes to major in architecture.

But, she promised her former basketball teammates, &uot;When the games start, I’ll be at every one, cheering them on!&uot;

Though her girls took fifth in the state and boys third in the TCIS last season, third-year coach Karen Norman admits, &uot;I was a bit concerned. But I had a lot of new girls come out, so I’m much more optimistic than I thought I would be.&uot; Swimmers like Joe Lewinski (the male squad’s only senior), freshman Brandon Wilder and sophomore Joe DiRenzo (who Norman refers to as the team’s spirit leader) are three of the reasons why.

&uot;We’ve been lifting weights and running all summer,&uot; says DiRenzo, who calls the breastroke his favorite swimming style. &uot;Let’s just say that I had some great leaders in the past on this team, and I’m going to take from them.&uot;

On the women’s side, juniors Tess Smith (hopefully fully recovered from a torn ACL she suffered two years ago) and Alma Cotton, who took 6th in the state in the 100-meter breastroke last year, are ready to swim past the waves of TCIS competition.

&uot;The breastroke is just the easiest for me to do,&uot; Cotton explains before hitting the water. &uot;I’d like to be first in the state this season.&uot;