THE MELROSE HIGH girls’ swim team opens up this season this week. (Jennifer Gentile photo)


New coach, faces make up 2021 squad


MELROSE—It’s only been a few short months since the Melrose High girls swim team gathered as a team during the MIAA’s spring “Fall 2” season. While these athletes have been on dry land for just a handful of months, a lot has changed since last April, namely a new coach and new home facility.

Laura McCormack, a Melrose native and longtime local coach, takes over as head coach of the team. She will be assisted by former Red Raider swimmer Meghan McDaid. Also new this season: Melrose will compete this year at a new home base of Malden High School.

McCormack is a former Melrose YMCA Shark swimmer and coach who once competed for Bishop Fenwick and Westfield State. As a Shark coach at the young age of 22, she helped double the size of the program from 50 to 100 athletes and helped coordinate the YMCA team merger with Peabody and Lynn. McCormack also coached at Arlinton Catholic High School for close to eight years where she led the team to countless victories and league championships. Many of McCormack’s swimmers graduated to compete in Division 1 colleges. Thus, this Melrose team is in good hands.

Coaching Melrose swimmers in years’ past was strong motivation to take on this position. “I have always wanted to coach Melrose High because I know so many of the kids through the YMCA program,” confirms McCormack. “I’m so excited to see all those kids now performing in the high school arena. High school swimming is so exciting because you can actually see the points add up and what you are doing for your team. Meghan [McDaid] is our assistant coach who was also a coach and swimmer at the Melrose YMCA. We’re so excited to coach together because we are great friends and work so well with one another.”

Sixteen Melrose High swimmers make up the roster this year. Thus, there are lots of opportunity for swimmers to make their marks in different races while also improving personal best times. “I’m hoping to bring in some new ideas and techniques to the team that they may have not seen before,” says the coach. “Meghan and I have done lots of research on swimming and seen hundreds of kids throughout our career. Things that work and don’t work for each individual swimmer. We know how to connect with the girls and get in tune with what will resonate them and we really hope that will build a strong team.”

Leading the team this season are senior captains Grace Haseltine and Milania Saggese, two seasoned veteran swimmers who will no doubt have excellent years for Melrose. They lead a small but talented group of swimmers who are already giving it their all in their pre-season. They include seniors Ariana Rodd, Demya Allen and Audrey Methot. They also return experienced juniors in Madeleine Brodeur, Anna Burtnett, Noelle L’Heureux, Ella Mistretta and Madison Wright. Sophomores include Elizabeth Cunningham, Amara Otaluka, Emilia Rahilly and Sophia Scacchi. Freshman finds include Catherine Kavanaugh and Lillian Ladner.

This is a lineup that McCormack likes. “Honestly, coming into the team, I was shocked. We have so many strong swimmers,” she says. “I’m used to coming to a team and teaching kids how to actually swim, and I don’t have to do that at all. I’m literally shocked at how great they are and how they just need some some tweaks here and there. I’m so excited to see where they go this year.”

While Melrose has some seasoned veterans, they also have two freshman who entered from the YMCA team with a great background. “We may not have a lot of girls, but all of them are strong swimmers,” confirms the coach.

As they get ready to kick off their season, there are some early goals identified.

“I want all the girls to feel confident and comfortable in the pool, and in their lives,” says McCormack. “I think that is so important for swimmers, and high schoolers in general. I obviously want them to be a great team and make improvements and win, but for me it’s more important for the girls to be confident in themselves and make personal improvements and complete personal goals. In our first meeting of the year, Meghan asked all the girls what their goals were. We don’t care if its a swim goal, or a personal goal, we just want to help them achieve that goal.”

Win, lose or draw, Melrose is excited to be back to their normal fall schedule with a larger amount of meets and opponents. “We’re just really excited to be part of this great group of girls,” says McCormack. “They’re so excited and enthusiastic and I’m thrilled to be the head coach now.”

Melrose will kick off their season this Thursday (post deadline) at home against Belmont and will travel to Woburn next Wednesday. Stay tuned.