12/22/05 — Life in the pool for Eastern Wayne is family tradition

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Life in the pool for Eastern Wayne is family tradition

By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on December 22, 2005 2:07 PM

You could call it a family tradition, figuratively and literally. At Eastern Wayne, swimming is a bond that joins parents and children, brothers and sisters and pretty much everyone else who has a passion and dedication to the aquatic sport.

But it's not for everyone.

It takes a major commitment to be a competitive swimmer. Many hours need to be spent grinding out lap after lap in the pool with the undying hope a second or two can be shaved off a personal best time.

To be good, it takes time and a lot of training.

And the Warriors are good, and have been for a long time.

"To put in all the hard work needed to be successful, you've got to love it," said junior Ashley Robinson, a returning state qualifier for Eastern Wayne. "Otherwise, you won't get very far.

"It takes lot of training and hard work. We practice every day, every week, every month ... we only take Christmas day off, and we practice three hours a day during the school year and five hours during the holidays."

Robinson and her younger brother, Alexander, have been swimmers longer than they can remember.

"They didn't have a whole lot of choice," their mother Sarah says with a laugh.

You see, Sarah Robinson is also a swimmer -- and an Eastern Wayne swim coach. Born and raised in England, Sarah Robinson swam for the Preston Swim Club, now the third-best club in the country, from age 7 to 19.

"Swimming has always been a love of mine, and I've tried to pass that along to my children," she said. "Ashley and Alexander have been swimming since they were 4 or 5."

But Eastern Wayne's family connection doesn't end with the Robinsons. This year's team also includes sisters Rachael and Regan Stoneburner and brothers Adam and Andrew Corley.

Freshman Mason Chenier doesn't have a sibling on this year's team, but had two who did swim at Eastern Wayne. Michael and Megan were both swimming standouts with the Warriors -- and both went on to swim at the University of North Carolina. Michael graduated in 2003 from UNC and Megan is a senior this year. Mason hopes to follow their footsteps and swim for the Tar Heels after he graduates.

Mason's parents were also collegiate swimmers. Mark and Barbara Chenier both swam competitively at Southern Methodist University.

"I've always looked up to my brother," Mason said. "He was always a big role model for me. My parents and sister are role models, too."

"Mason comes from a good pedigree, and he could be the best of the lot," said Sidney Myers, who also coaches the Eastern Wayne swim team. "He's a coach's dream, he can do anything."

Myers also expects big things from the rest of the young Warriors this season. Like Chenier, Alexander Robinson, Melvin Shipman, Eric Gross, Spencer Rouse, Tyler Leeson and Ryan Klinkicht are just freshmen. The Corleys, both first-year swimmers, along with Sam Fornecker, are seniors and the only upperclassmen on the boys team.

The girls team is young, too.

Rachael Stoneburner and Brittan Steelman are seniors; Melissa Reicker and Meike Meischner are juniors; Regan Stoneburner, Jennifer Talton, Ali Kosarck and Tiffany Best are sophomores; and Courtney Garland is a freshman.

"They're young, but they're learning each week and the freshmen are really pushing and improving," Myers said. "We're hoping to be at the top of our conference and should have some state qualifiers this year. There are some we expect to qualify for state, and we hope to have some surprises, too. This is a close-knit group, it's like one big family."

So far, the only team in the conference to beat Warriors this season has been Wilson Hunt as both the girls and boys teams sport identical 26-10 records overall and 14-2 conference marks. The Eastern Wayne girls team is the defending conference champions and the boys team finished runner-up to West Carteret -- a team no longer in the Warriors' region.

"Hopefully, we can win our conference again and get as many individuals and relay teams to state as we possibly can," Ashley Robinson said. "But we have to keep working hard."

But that is often easier said than done.

Like in most sports, swimmers can hit the proverbial "wall," meaning increased training doesn't always lead to better results.

"Swimming's a hard sport," Alexander Robinson said. "There are times where you can reach a certain point and your times won't drop. When that happens, you have to stick with it and eventually the times will come down."

A good sibling rivalry also helps.

When asked who wins in a head-to-head competition, Alexander proudly said, "I beat her."

"You have to be very good to beat her," Myers added.

While it helps to be experienced when it comes to swimming, coach Robinson said it isn't necessarily a prerequisite.

"In many sports like basketball, soccer, football, baseball, you have to start early," she said. "In swimming, you can come in any age and be successful if you're dedicated and willing to work hard."