Last year the Clarkstown swim team capped off an 8-0 regular season -- the first undefeated season in the program's history -- with an impressive second-place showing at the section meet.
But after graduating a bevy of seniors, including all-American Eric Farm, the onus of building on an incredible 2012 season will fall onto the shoulders of a small core of experienced swimmers and the burgeoning talent at the underclassmen level.
"I think we can definitely put up enough of a fight to push us through the season and be happy with what we end up with at the end," junior co-captain James Furey said. "I feel, especially this year over most years I've been here, that our younger group of kids is going to be the next generation for this team. I have a very strong feeling about our younger talent."
That younger talent includes eight middle-school students, 11 freshmen, and five sophomores. Second-year coach Theo Tomljanovich said sophomore Matt Kishinevsky's development will be a big boost to Clarkstown this season.
"He was a talented ninth-grader last year," Tomljanovich said. "He's on the right path to get better. He will be a good competitor at sections when we get to February where I can definitely see him top-16, maybe a finalist at his races. He's very good at the 100-yard butterfly, 50-free. He can do the 100-free as well."
Furey was a state qualifier in the 500 free and the 100 breaststroke last year. He said his goal is to swim a minimum of two events at the state meet this year. Furey has been lifting weights, supplementing the dry-land calisthenics and stretches Tomljanovich has the swimmers do.
Tomljanovich said junior Ryan O'Connell and the rest of the diving team will be important contributors to the team.
"(O'Connell is) our leader this year in diving," Tomljanovich said. "We have a couple of younger divers who are also solid. I think they'll make the section meet."
O'Connell ran hurdles and practiced dives at West Point during the off-season. He said he put on weight and grew taller since last season.
"I can do dives that I wasn't able to do last year," O'Connell said. "I can get more height off the board."
Tomljanovich said Furey and co-captain Colin Farrell make the 100-yard breaststroke the team's strength. He said a dual meet against Tappan Zee in mid-January will test the team prior to the section meet.
"A lot of talented individuals graduated and have gone off to their desired colleges, which was exciting," Tomljanovich said. "These guys are younger, but they're working hard. They're going to have a learning experience, and they're going to have fun doing it.
"They're going to learn because they're going to have two or three more years together. So they're going to remember these times and pull together next year and the following year."