Don’t scold yourself if you’ve read a similar statement in the past.
This season’s Hudson girls swimming and diving team could be the greatest ever.
It seems like this declaration has been mentioned before, hasn’t it?
Over and over and over again, as a matter of fact.
Of course, 14th-year head coach Matt Davis certainly doesn’t remind sounding redundant. His Explorers have been among the elite for what seems like an eternity.
Therefore, pardon Davis for sounding like a broken record. He just can’t help himself.
"I have been blessed with many talented teams in my 14 years at Hudson, but this team has the ability to be something really special," Davis said.
"Special" has been the Explorers’ legacy for what seems like eons. Hudson won its fourth consecutive Suburban League National Conference title and finished third at the Division I state meet for the second consecutive year.
The Explorers have won seven consecutive conference championships. Hudson also has finished in the top 10 at the state meet eight straight times.
"We’re poised to make a pretty good run at the end of the season," Davis said. "We have the caliber of swimmers to challenge for the top couple of spots."
The Explorers, who have produced a number of elite swimmers and divers since Davis became the team’s head coach, saw one of their all-time greats graduate during the spring.
Maddie Hannan, a four-time state qualifier who specialized in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle races, is now a member of the University of Cincinnati’s women’s swimming and diving team.
Other graduates included Jamie Alexander, a two-time district qualifier in the 100 backstroke, diver Megan Sullivan and freestyle specialist Kelly Ross.
As always, though, Hudson is loaded with teenagers who can swim like sailfish. Eight of those allegedly gill-bearing creatures qualified for the 2019 state meet.
Leading the way is three-time state qualifier Paige McCormick, who recently signed a letter of intent to continue her academic and swimming careers at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.
McCormick became the first female state champion swimmer in school history after capturing the title in the 500-yard freestyle. She also placed fourth in the 200 freestyle and was a member of the third-place 400 freestyle relay team and the eighth-place 200 medley relay team.
"Paige has her sights set on continuing to get faster and getting better," Davis said. "She has a good shot to win it again. The 200 free and 200 IM [individual medley] are good events for her. The 200 free was pretty close, one through eight, but I think Paige is definitely one who can compete in that event."
Junior Mackenzie DeWitt has her eyes on a state title too.
DeWitt captured the bronze medal in the 50 freestyle after placing fourth in that event the previous year. She also was a member of the 400 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams.
"Mackenzie wants to add a second event," Davis said. "She’ll do whatever it takes to help the team. We need to score as many points as possible and she is all on board for us trying to do that."
The third member of the Explorers’ powerful triumvirate is senior Giovanna Cappabianca, who recently signed to continue swimming at the University of Akron.
Cappabianca, a two-time state qualifier, finished fourth in the 200 IM and 19th in the 100 butterfly at the 2019 state meet. She also was a member of the 200 medley relay team and the third-place 200 freestyle relay team.
"Giovanna has been on the podium several times," Davis said. "We need her to get on the podium in a couple of events."
Davis is quite stoked about his terrific trio, but other teams have top-notch performers, as well. Nevertheless, Hudson does have one advantage over most of its competitors. The Explorers’ so-called second tier of swimmers are pretty dominant in their own right.
"Paige, Giovanna and Mackenzie are very important for a lot of different reasons, but the quality of our team is our depth," Davis said. "All of the top teams have three or four studs. I think our next six or seven girls will be the difference."
Leading this powerful second crew are senior Gabrielle Loring and sophomore Lucy Reber.
Loring was a member of both the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams at the 2019 state meet. She also placed 18th in the 200 IM and 20th in the 500 freestyle. Reber finished 15th in the 200 IM and was a member of the 200 medley relay team.
Other returning state qualifiers are sophomores Mija Drobnjak (23rd in the 100 breaststroke) and Eliana Szabo (200 freestyle relay).
Senior Noelle Kara, who was a member of the 200 freestyle relay team that qualified for the 2018 state meet, and Junior Taylor Kochanowski, who qualified for the 2018 state competition in the 100 breaststroke, return too. Sophomore Isabella DiTullio is Hudson’s top diver.
Davis also is excited to welcome back two other district qualifiers to the mix. They are sophomores Peyton Binns (50 freestyle) and Kate Hensley (100 butterfly).
Despite their accomplishments, don’t expect the Explorers’ top performers from the previous season to rest on their laurels. That’s because several newcomers will be pushing them to swim even faster.
They are Olivia Pisano, a district qualifier who set school records in the 100 backstroke and the 100 butterfly for Aurora last season, and freshmen Carrie Caniglia, Marisa Schenkenberger and Mia Dezelic.
"We have so many swimmers and divers who are excited to contribute to the team," Davis said. "I am really looking forward to seeing how this team comes together because they have an opportunity to do something no other Hudson swim team has ever done."
Hudson’s assistant coaches who have been with Davis for a number of years are Mallory Martin, Holly Kear and Matt Riede. Dan Miller has been the team’s diving coach for nearly a decade.
Davis also welcomes former pupil Paige Kelly, a former standout who recently concluded her swimming career at the University of Kentucky, and Josh Forsythe to his coaching staff.
The Explorers are scheduled to make their 2019-20 debut at the Comet Relays Nov. 30 at Solon High School. Swimming is set to begin at 9 a.m.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.