Huntington's girls' swimming team will open the season with practices at the Bay Club's outdoor pool. (Darin Reed photo)

H-ton Girls’ Swimming Eyes Season

Huntington's girls' swimming team will open the season with practices at the Bay Club's outdoor pool. (Darin Reed photo.)

August 1, 2018

The Huntington High School girls’ swimming and diving team is looking ahead to the fall season. Practice will begin on Monday, August 20.

Like many teams in Suffolk and across the state, Huntington has elected to combine its squad with Walt Whitman. The Blue Devils are coached by Christopher Helmke and Meg McConnell. Whitman’s Rufus Shepard is also on the staff.

Six Blue Devils are returning as veterans of last fall’s team. Huntington graduated state qualifiers Tricia Arceri and Sigrid Cassell along with Gaia D’Anna and Francine Nastasi. Those four will be missed and so will the points the group earning in individual and relay events.

Helmke has been striving to get more athletes interested in the program, especially swimmers and divers at J. Taylor Finley Middle School, which doesn’t have a team of its own. Finley students who qualify can go straight to the varsity squad.

Early season practices will be held in the outdoor pool at the Head of the Bay Club at 191 Bay Road in Huntington. The fall campaign will begin on Monday, August 20 at 8 a.m. Practices will run from 8-10 a.m. daily. The team will move indoors to the Huntington YMCA pool beginning on Monday, September 10. Indoor practice will be held daily from 3-4 p.m.

Team members must get to daily practices at the Bay Club on their own. The coaching staff will be waiting for them there. Once school begins, bus transportation from school to the practice site will be available.

Anyone interested in joining the team can contact Helmke during the summer at with questions.

Helmke’s goals include attracting “motivated swimmers and divers to the team and maintaining a high level of dedication, sportsmanship and teamwork.” The 2017 team compiled an overall dual meet record of 4-4 and went on to finish fifth in Section XI.

The top Blue Devil returnees look to be Caelan Clayton and Kathryn Montefusco, who both swam to All-League honors last fall. Clayton is an incoming freshman while Montefusco is entering eighth grade at Finley.

Montesfusco excelled on Huntington’s relay teams and in breaststroke. She’s hardworking and an extremely fast freestyler and breaststroker with a winning personality. Clayton shows signs of being exceptional in both freestyle and butterfly. The teenager is another hardworking, versatile and dedicated swimmer with a good natured way about her.

Hannah Bailin, Claire Connor, Sasha Koulakova and Gretel Cassell are also all returning to the water. Helmke will look to each one of them to assume spots in the lineup and start scoring points for the Blue Devils.

Helmke said placing fifth among 28 teams in last fall’s Suffolk championships was a major accomplishment considering the team carried a combined roster of just 14 swimmers and divers.

Getting more people involved in the program and getting more girls interested in diving are two ongoing goals for Huntington’s coaches.

Helmke wants all of his swimmers and divers to be ready for the first day of practice. An opportunity for high school athletes (grades 9-12) to obtain a physical exam from the school doctor in the nurse’s office will be provided on Thursday, August 9 at 8 a.m. Students must bring a completed and signed interval health history screening form to the physical exam. (This physical exam is for students who are not getting an exam from their private physician.)

No one will be allowed to participate without presenting an up-to-date physical exam report, signed parent/guardian permission/code of conduct slip and a current health screening form. These documents are available in the athletic office at Huntington High School during daytime hours or via downloading on the school district’s website at – click on the Main Navigation on the top left of the homepage and then on Fall Season under Athletics. Scroll down to Documents and click. A dropdown menu of items will appear.

High school athletes must re-qualify for participation with the school nurse. Fall athletes can re-qualify on Monday, August 13 (9-11 a.m.), Monday, August 20 (7-11 a.m.) and Tuesday, August 21 (7-11 a.m.) Physical exam forms completed by private physicians and signed interval health history screening forms should both be presented to the nurse when requalifying.