Rivals in other sports, the Joel Barlow and Bethel student-athletes — just a short up or down Route 58 — are teammates in the pool. The co-op boys' swim team brings together seven Bethel students and five Barlow representatives. It's a small team but the collaborative effort gives the swimmers a chance to compete with other conference schools as a team.
What's more, Coach Eileen Earle has strong ties to both towns.
"I grew up in Bethel," said Earle, who has coached the Barlow girls for 22 years and the Barlow boys six seasons, the last two of which have included the co-op with Bethel.
"The boys all get along which is nice," said Earle, adding that the upperclassmen assist the younger team members — regardless of school affiliation.
"I think it's a great experience for them to be working with kids from another town," Earle points out.
There are seven freshmen and sophomores, and with only two seniors the hope is for the program to grow in upcoming seasons.
Not only are there two schools, but both genders are represented on the team; girls are allowed to compete on boys' swim teams. Katherine Boraski is one of the seniors; Connor Frederickson is the other senior on the squad.
Other team members are Maximillian Allen, Katherine Boraski, Ryan Cassel, Ian Chen, Caeden Frederickson, Connor Frederickson, Matthew Johnston, Ab Pani, Kyle Stejskal, Ryan Tenezaca, Ryan Thomas and Stephan Timozek.
With such a small squad, it is difficult for the boys to collectively challenge opponents throughout the conference that have larger lineups, but the Barlow-Bethel co-op team members can be competitive individually and in relays race to race.
In a meet with Newtown on January 14, Connor Frederickson won the 200 yard freestyle race in a time of 1:58.56 and Ian Chen was second in the 500 with a time of 6:04.76.