Tonawanda News — It’s been a bit of a rebuilding year for the North Tonawanda boys swimming team this season.
The Lumberjacks are only 1-11, capturing their first win of the season last Tuesday against Kenmore East. But there is positivity funneling through the NT program as the team has started to come together under first-year coach Matt Nalbone.
At the center of the excitement is junior Nick Mallone, who currently holds the No. 2 Niagara Frontier League times on the season in the 50 freestyle (23.10) and the 100 freestyle (51.24). Nalbone has been impressed with Mallone’s versatility.
“He can swim any event and he can swim it well,” Nalbone said. “The past few weeks he has really started to excel at the 50 and 100 free. He’s a leader, everybody looks up to him and he gets everybody motivated. He’s always focused on his events, but also getting others focused as well.”
Mallone started swimming in sixth grade when his cousin introduced him to the sport. After completing his first swim meet, Mallone was hooked.
At the beginning Mallone gravitated toward distance swimming, but with his emerging sprinting talents he is starting to enjoy the faster races.
He said most of the credit for his success this season goes to his coach.
“Mostly I have to give the credit to my coach because he’s been working us so hard the whole season,” Mallone said. “When I was a freshman I started off doing more distance, but now I’m getting more into the sprinting.”
“He works us a lot on our technique, and that’s helped us a lot,” he continued. “He works a lot on our turns and that helps more because, in his eyes, you can win a race based solely on your turns. It’s true honestly — I’ve been working on my turns a lot, getting on and off the wall real quick, and that has helped me drop a lot of time. We do a lot of reaction drills and those help us get off the blocks quicker. The underwater dolphin kicks are helping us get up quicker from under water, too.”