Story & Photos by Karen Fucito
With a former All-American swimmer at the helm and close to 130 kids participating in the swim team program, the Lake Forest Swim Team is poised to have another successful summer league season.
Coach Eddie Zappile is confident that this year’s team will dominate most of their meets. He is most concerned with the contests against Roxbury (Horseshoe Lake) and Cranberry Lake, both programs with lots more kids participating than any other towns.
“Roxbury and Cranberry Lake are our two toughest opponents,” said Zappile. “I think we have a big advantage this year because both meets are home. We’ll have home field advantage because most other swimmers don’t like our lake—because of the seaweed.”
Coach Eddie Zappile
The league is broken down into five age groups, eight and under, 9/10’s 11/12’s 13/14’s and 15-18. According to Zappile his 9/10’s and 11/12’s are his strongest age groups. He is most excited about two swimmers, Matt Xenitelis who swims in the 13/14 age group and Kelly Brown who swims in the 15-18 age group. Brown swims for Jefferson HS and works harder than anyone else in the water, said Zappile. Xenitelis will be a freshman at Jefferson HS come September. He just started swimming all year round, preferring pools to the lake, but has always enjoyed swimming for the Lake Forest Swim Team. He was just seven when he joined the team.
“I prefer to swim in a pool, mostly because you can see the wall better!” said Xenitelis, whose favorite stroke is the backstroke. “I love him (Zappile) as a coach—he’s a great coach. He teaches me a lot about my strokes,” said Xenitelis.
Zappile has been swimming all his life. At 22, he has an impressive resume—a four-year starter at Jefferson HS, then four more years at William Patterson University, earning All-American status while there. This is his third year coaching at Lake Forest, second as the head coach. Each year he has seen participation numbers increase, this year adding 30 more names to the roster. Also added this year are two assistant coaches, Zappile’s little brother, Chris and Louis Pessalano. All have been swimming with the Lake Forest Swim Team since they were 5 or 6.
The parent’s involvement has been very helpful, said Zappile. They leave the coaching to him and take care of all the other duties needed to run a successful program with so many kids, especially during home meets.
Karey Boise Alexa Rizzotto pushes off the wall to begin the backstroke.
Lake Forest has already won their first two meets, against rival Lake Shawnee and Flanders Valley, respectively. Here is their remaining schedule:
7/11 Cranberry Lake (H)
7/14 Randolph Park (H)
7/18 Roxbury (H)
7/21 Park Lake (H)
7/25 Mendham (H)
7/28 @ Shongum
7/30 @ Shore Hills
8/1 @ Denville