Diving into summer with ISL


Matthew Dimaandal

CONSTRUCTIVE COACHING: Senior Simran Patel offers helpful advice and support to a swimmer before her race.

Summer began with a splash for the many Northwood students and staff who participated as swimmers and coaches in the Irvine Swim League (ISL), an organization that aims to create a fun, safe environment for swimmers to learn and improve over the summer. Twenty-two teams participate in ISL throughout Irvine, and each team is largely based on location, with practices held in nearby or community pools.

“ISL has been so much fun,” junior Brendan Birozy said. “I love working with children, teaching them how to swim, developing a bond with so many of them and watching them improve as the season progresses.”

The swimmers range from ages 5-18, and compete within their age groups. Many Northwood students begin coaching the summer after their freshman or sophomore year, either as a volunteer or a paid coach. However, coaches often pull double duty and compete as well, giving them the opportunity to excel in both spheres.

“Coaching and swimming was really fun but was also very tiring,” junior Jenna Dedicatoria said, “especially running around and making sure that the kids don’t bump their heads or anything. Specifically on ISL, there are lots of beginning swimmers and many at a more advanced level, so it’s hard switching between roles.”

While doing both does come with some challenges, the coaches are more than happy with and capable of their jobs, as is evident by the smiles, hugs and support given to them by their swimmers, especially as they swim their races. Swimmers are all the more excited to cheer on their coaches during their races, especially since many of the coaches are high-level, accomplished athletes, making the high-speed races exciting to watch.

“I was able to coach this summer, and I was also able to compete at meets, which was a new experience for me,” senior Ethan Chen said. “One meet this season, my relay even broke a team record, which was really cool. It was an enriching experience being on part of a relay that broke a years-old record. It’s even cooler because our head coach, Kyle Kim-E, actually was part of the relay that held the previous record.”

Kim-E is also a Northwood alum, teacher and Water Polo coach, exemplifying the deep connections that Northwood staff and students have through ISL. These relationships last into the school year and build the Northwood community that aligns with ISL values. While ISL is a competitive swim league, the heart of the program focuses on fun activities and team spirit. Swimmers cultivate long-lasting swimming skills, life lessons, leadership skills and strong friendships.

“ISL helps keep communities of people active and social through friendships with teammates and competitiveness with friends on other teams,” Birozy said. “Everyone loves seeing their school friends at meets and events outside of school.”

ISL is already planning for Summer 2022, with the season tentatively planned to run from June 6 to Aug. 13. Northwood students and staff are already planning on continuing their positions on their respective teams next summer, spreading the T-wolf spirit throughout the community.