Peter Larsen photo/SJHS

SJHS coach reaches milestone in pool

by Ron Barry - Saturday, December 12, 2015

This article is courtesy of Telegraph-Journal

SAINT JOHN A quarter of a century is a long time to do anything, let alone do it well.

Which brings us to Charlie Sullivan Jr.

On Sunday when the Canada Games Aquatic Centre hosts the New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association swim championships beginning at 10 a.m., Sullivan will put a cap on his 25th year as head coach at Saint John High School. Under his watch, the Greyhounds' program has become a force in the pool, securing 13 NBIAA banners as overall champions to go along with 17 boys and 12 girls divisional titles.

Those impressive numbers don't tell Sullivan's entire narrative in the sports world - he has also scripted his chapter as a member of New Brunswick's 'First Family of Curling', garnering acclaim for his successes on the pebbled sheets of ice.

For starters, he served as third for his cousin, the late Jim Sullivan, when they teamed with Dan Alderman and Craig Burgess to win the Canadian junior title in 1987 and the world championship in Fussen, Germany in 1988. The foursome would later be inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame, circa 1994.He has also been to five Briers,winning silver (1990) and bronze medals (1997).

What has transpired during his time as a swim coach has not drawn the media attention afforded his curling exploits, but it has been a satisfying journey for this teacher.

"You see kids in a different light and you see them develop over a period of time," said Sullivan."It's one of the joys you get after being in the high school environment."

As swimmers ready for the provincials, the line will start behind Fredericton High School, whose Black Kats were dominant in 2014 as they claimed the overall title by sweeping the senior boys' and girls' divisions and winning the junior girls' title. The only obstacle in their way of a grand slam came from Nepisiguit High School of Bathurst, which earned junior boys'laurels.

"They are definitely the favourite," said Sullivan of FHS, which flexed its might by winning the overall title at last month's South-West Regionals in Woodstock."They are far ahead - there's not going to be any upset this year. I haven't really looked at the North-East,but our senior girls will take a run at them in their division. It's going to be one of those meets where it probably goes back and forth from race to race."

At the regionals, FHS had a number of strong individual performances in the senior division - Eric Meng swept the 50,100 and 200-metre freestyle races and added a fourth victory in the 100-metre individual medley, while Alex Strelkov and Gabriella Belsh were both triple winners.

The Greyhounds found success in relays, particularly in the senior division as they won the boys' and girls' freestyle and medley races.SJHS will be relying on Angelina Kim, Isabelle Nickerson, Kyra Holt, Emily Whitcomb, Emilee Hoellwarth and Janelle Holt (girls) and Mitch Lui, Sam Dumouchel, Greg Whitcomb, Adrien Selway, Robert Scott and Alexander Corasaniti (boys) to build upon their regional victories. It's no accident the 'Hounds do well in the relays.

"I always like to win relays, or at least place high in those events," said Sullivan."We work at the relays - they're fun and the kids love these races. You'll hear them cheering much louder during the relays than the individual events."

There were some close calls are the Southwest Regionals - the FHS junior boys' team of Noah Brake, Owen Piercey, Ben Goodyear and Gabriel Giesterfer Nyvlt posted a 200-metre medley relay time of two minutes, 20.42 seconds.

Not to be outdone, Kyra Holt of SJHS and Bea Lougheed of FHS both touched at 33.51 seconds in the 50-metre butterfly. In the 100-metre butterfly, Nicole MacNeil of Saint John High posted a time of 1:14.88 to beat Gabriella Belsh of Fredericton High by 24 one-hundreths of a second. With swimmers from the North-East Regionals strengthening the field, Sullivan anticipates more nail-biters.

"It's going to make races even harder," said the meet manager."It's like shuffling two decks of cards together - you might have been second when it was one deck, but now you're fourth when the decks are together. In some races, especially at the 50-metre distance, you may have one second separating the top six swimmers. It may come down to a good start,a good turn or a smart finish."

getcontent.jpg - Taken by Peter Larsen

getcontent4.jpg - Taken by Peter Larsen

getcontent_2.jpg - Taken by Peter Larsen