The Valley Echo

The Valley Echo

The Valley Echo

The Valley Echo

The Valley Echo

The Valley Echo

Female Team of the Year: Girls Swimming

contributed by Nicole Choi
The girls swimming team poses for a picture. The squad’s league championship this year earned them the Female Team of the Year award.

Shawn Buchanan is no stranger to the bright lights of a varsity competition. Whether it was as an athletic director coordinating state finals or swimming at his alma mater of Morristown, NJ, he has been involved in varsity sports for quite some time.

Buchanan started the swimming program at Pascack Valley in 2004, yet left to take on the athletic director role. However, when he accepted the swimming/diving team job after leaving the team he created at PV, there was a sense of nervousness in his system when the season started. 

“I was excited to get back into coaching, [but] of course you get nervous or anxious heading into a new season,” Buchanan said. “I hoped in the beginning that I laid out my expectations and what we were hoping to achieve as a team.”

Buchanan has been involved in many facets of Pascack Valley, whether that was heading the extensive student government system or running many events held at the Valley. Yet, Buchanan’s legacy holds true in the fact that he started the swimming team at Pascack Valley in 2004.

He had a quick hiatus, taking on an athletic director role, but realized he loved teaching and coaching and wanted to return to an English teacher position. 

Buchanan showed zero signs of a learning curve in returning to the helm, as the girls started off a perfect 5-0 through the first month of swimming, knocking off perennial powers Northern Highlands and Passaic Tech. 

“I said it from day 1 that we could absolutely be league champs and I think a lot of people thought I was crazy,” Buchanan said. “That’s the mindset you have to have going into the season.” 

The swimming program at PV is a storied one, with many league championships under its belt, but the team’s last one not coming since 2018. The girls got back to glory this year, clinching the league title with an undefeated regular season. 

For the girls and Buchanan, the Passaic Tech meet was the key to the girls’ championship run. 

“Buchanan always told us to trust the plan we had so [we continued] to do our best and cheer on our teammates,” senior captain Wendy Muska said. 

Buchanan placed a large emphasis on the team aspect of swimming, despite the need for every swimmer to perform in their specific race. He uses the phrase, “All swimmers, all races, all lanes” to show the true team aspect.  

The Passaic Tech meet was the turning point in the season, and willed the team to the league championship.

“In the past few years we saw PCTI (Passaic Tech) as an unbeatable team but after beating them, our perspective changed about our team,” senior captain Nicole Choi said. 

The senior leaders on the team were able to guide the young core to victory, being there for support and encouragement throughout the season. 

“Like every sport, there are little groups [among the underclassmen], so I made sure to ask every person how they are feeling and individually know every person on the team,” Choi said. 

Buchanan made sure that their teammates trusted one another and the captains ensured this was a standard through the team.

“We had to trust in one another and trust in Buchanan’s plan to win,” Choi said. 

Buchanan achieved 100 wins this year against his alma mater of Morristown, adding to his extensive resume as a coach. Additionally, this win advanced the team in the state tournament. The girls fell in the next round to eventual state champion Ridgewood. Before this loss, the team was undefeated in league and state play.

Although the team is losing key senior members, the core of the team is young. The legacy this group of girls will leave with the team will help guide future teams to success.

“Coming into this season, the roster was for the most part a very young team and our seniors did a tremendous job leading this young team,” Buchanan said. “A lot of them were inexperienced when it came to swimming at a high school level, [rather than] a club or travel level. We knew that if we focused on our goals, we could [win the league]. 

Buchanan thinks that with the core of returning swimmers, more league and possibly sectional championships are not off the table. However, maintaining the team and family legacy is the most important to the senior leaders. 

“The legacy I want to leave behind is making sure the team stays close as more of a family than a team,” Muska said.

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About the Contributor
Ethan Perlman
Ethan Perlman, Editor In Chief
Ethan Perlman has been a part of the Valley Echo since his freshman year and has written multiple articles, including one that was included in the Pascack Press. He started as a sports writer, quickly became active in the sports writing department, then transitioned into an Assistant Sports Editor his sophomore year. In his Junior year, he was a co-Head Sports Editor of the Valley Echo, active in clubs such as the Investment Club, and DECA, while also being a representative on the student council. This year, he transitioned into an Co-Editor In Chief role, leading the Valley Echo to greater heights and accomplishents.He plays soccer and lacrosse for PV. He looks to continue his writing and editing production, exploring the various stories that involve PV life and sports.

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