The Binghamton men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams ended their 2018-19 campaigns with several broken records and an 11-2 combined record in dual meets under the helm of their head coach, Brad Smith. But after five years as head coach, Smith departed to accept the head coach position at Youngstown State, and now, there’s a new boss in the pool — Jerry Cummiskey.
Cummiskey, a former associate head coach at Bryant University, has a long background with swimming. He was only in elementary school when he joined his first team.
“Once I got to high school, I made the decision to really commit to swimming instead of playing basketball or other sports,” Cummiskey said. “I had some success in high school and continued to swim in college.”
After Cummiskey committed to Springfield College for swimming, he began studying physical education and earned his bachelor’s degree in movement and sports studies. Upon graduating, Cummiskey made the decision to begin his coaching career. He was associate head coach at Bryant University for six years, coaching the women’s team to the Northeast Conference title in 2018 and 2019.
Cummiskey said he wants to bring that success to Binghamton by training with a purpose.
“We’re not going to overtrain,” Cummiskey said. “We’re not going to be super yardage-heavy. We’re going to do a lot of work out of the water, whether that’s spinning or rowing or lifting or conditioning or yoga, so it’s a good mix.”
With the team’s strong record, Cummiskey said he is excited to work with all of the old and new athletes. Junior distance free specialist Kaitlyn Smolar was responsible for three of the records broken last season (1000 free, 1650 free, 800 free relay), while senior Tyler Meyers holds the pool record for the 200 free relay and was named co-captain for the 2019-20 season.
“Smolar will be a really great freestyler for us, and we’ve got Tyler on the men’s side who will be one of our top guys, but all the way through the roster we’ve got people who’re going to contribute,” Cummiskey said.
Out of that roster, there are 13 freshmen, seven on the men’s side and six on the women’s side.
“[The freshmen] are a great group,” Cummiskey said. “We’ve got a group of women who’re going to come in day one and help in some areas where we need it. We’ve got some new faces on the diving end which will be good. We’ll have six women divers which is huge, and then we’ll have some really talented men coming in that will make an impact right away.”
As the new head coach, Cummiskey will be preparing his swimmers for their first meet on Oct. 19 against Siena and Niagara, but he is already looking ahead to February to prepare his team for the America East championships.
“We’re excited to get the racing season going,” Cummiskey said. “After six weeks of training, you really need the races, but we’re going to really focus on what we’re going to do in February, so the dual meets will be stepping stones along the way. Our main focus will be on championships.”
The opening meets for the men’s and women’s teams will take place on Oct. 19 at 1 p.m. in the West Gym in Vestal, New York.