By Wendy Nugent, Newton Now
The welcome humid, warm air of the Newton High School indoor swimming pool area felt like a tropical rain forest on a cold January day as members of the boys’ team swam laps, one hurling himself into the water after another.
The team, of which Kim Powell is head coach, has a number of swimmers, two of whom are captain Josh Kennell, a senior, and junior Luke Schmidt.
Both enjoy the sport.
Kennell, who’s been on the team all four years of high school, likes swimming for at least one reason.
“Something I’ve liked is that it really gets me out of my comfort zone, which has been a real positive experience,” he said. “I never did sports before I did this. I didn’t know what to expect, the intensity, if the people were mean. It’s a very supportive team.”
Kennell said he didn’t do club swimming before joining the Newton High School team and that he mostly completes in freestyle.
Other members of the team chose Kennell as the sole team captain.
“It was a very close vote,” Kennell said. “I think there were four of us in contention.”
He also said he thought there were three tied for second, so the coach just chose one, the first-place winner.
Some of his duties include leading an abdominal workout at the end of practice and leading the team chant before meets.
“We are the Railers, Railers of the night,” he said, reciting the chant. “Make love, not war. We’ll put in a fight. […] We are the Railers, best you’ll ever see.”
“We have lots of traditions,” Kennell said. “I have no idea where it came from. It’s just been passed down,” he added about the chant.
Other extra-curricular activities for Kennell include music and tennis. He also has a job outside of school at Kidron Bethel Village in North Newton.
Schmidt, in his second year, swims a variety of strokes.
“I swim freestyle, breast stroke and butterfly,” he said.
Schmidt enjoys the closeness of the team.
“Just how the team is—the team atmosphere,” he said. “It feels like a family.”
He said he’s made friends on the team and that he and Kennell are friends as well, doing activities with the German Club.
He’s involved in other sports.
“I run cross country in the fall, swim and do track,” he said. “Oh, and spike ball. It’s a new game coming up. It’s pretty fun.”
Schmidt said a memorable time he’s had in swimming was during a meet, last year.
“We had a close meet last year that we won,” he said, adding the audience was cheering and screaming.
One of the things Kennell said that stands out in his mind with team activities is the team dinners before every meet, where they dine at a team member’s home and hang out.
“That’s a big highlight,” he said.