Bartolomucci excels in pool

MILFORD – Acclaimed author Jack Canfield once noted, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

For Milford High’s Andrew Bartolomucci, it might not have been “everything,” but greatness resided there, in the deep end of the swimming pool.

“I started swimming when I was 7,” said Bartolomucci. “My mom got me in it when I was 7. She was worried that I wouldn’t be able to swim as a kid. It was one of her biggest fears that I would drown someday.”

The pool and Bartolomucci have grown inseparable ever since. These days, the Spartans junior trains furiously with his club team, Phoenix Swimming of Bradford, Mass., four nights and four mornings a week, adds in a full course schedule, with honors classes, and sprinkles in a giant role with the MHS team.

It’s a monster workload, but Bartolomucci would have it no other way. In fact, it molds him.

“I like how it’s kind of shaped me as a person,” he said. “My teammates and coaches, they help you set a goal. They give you the pieces to the puzzle. You have to find a way to put them together by yourself. Swimming kind of shapes you as much as a person as it does an athlete.”

Club swimming is a year-round sport. The athletes get August to rejuvenate, but other than that, he gets plenty of carpool time with Phoenix teammates Miles Lim and Jenna Charlat as they make the tough commute and hit the pool hard.

It is time-consuming, and it is his life.

“I really think for most kids who do it, it teaches you how to hold your own in the real world, as well as swimming,” said Bartolomucci. “And it keeps you out of trouble, definitely.

“How do you define being a kid? It matters who you are talking to. It’s become my passion, I love being around my teammates, high school and club. It’s stressful, homework is tough. But I’m sure it goes along with many other sports.”

But the club swimming becomes a mere part of the equation in the winter. The sport takes on a new dimension for Bartolomucci when Spartan swim season kicks in for coach Nancy McManus.

“I really love high school for different reasons,” he said. ?”I can bring the different skills in swimming that I’ve learned with the top kids in club, and help other kids who may not be as experienced.

“Nancy sometimes allows me to help out and coach. If they come to practice every day, want to get better and want to work. They’re going to soak in everything that you give them.”

Bartolomucci is indeed a force in the high school ranks.

Last winter, he won the state title in the 200 freestyle, which is not even his best event. His specialty is the butterfly.

But there is so much to the camaraderie of the Spartans’ program, a tight-knit bunch that practices and competes out of the Hampshire Hills pool.

Right now, Bartolomucci isn’t sure what events he’ll be immersed in when the state meet rolls around. At this point, he’s got much broader goals for the high school season.

“As much as winning states would be fun again, I’m really just having fun, and I love coaching everyone,” he said. “Watching them improve as they have been, it’s really fun. The goal is to get as big a group as possible qualified to take to states.”?He’s talented, sure, but the maturity level that Bartolomucci has developed has kept him grounded, even with all the success.

There are no Olympic delusions, and he understands that college scholarship money is hard to come by. So as he looks ahead, there is a sense of realism in his expectations.

“Once I’m set on a path career wise, hopefully I can find a college I love for education and find the right (swim) program to be a part of it,” he said. “It’s crazy out there. A lot of people tell me my interests are likely to change in the future. “Right now, I like computer science a lot, and I’m testing those waters.”

And as Bartolomucci has proven in his career, once he dives in, there is no turning back.