Litchfield’s Henry Kavle Blazes to Glory in the Water...By John Torsiello
Henry Kavle was treading water for as long as he can remember back. The Litchfield High School star was introduced to the activity by his parents.
“My parents were both swimmers, so they've had me and my sisters swimming for as long as I can remember. I swam at the Litchfield Country Club (coached by Newell Porch and Andrew Marchand) in the summers from a very young age. When I was old enough, I swam with the middle school team with Chris Stupak as coach, and then the high school team with Bill Dranginis and Andy Parker as coaches for two years, and now with Gordon Brown and Wendy Snow. I also swim in the pre-season with the Litchfield Swim Team for head coach Patrick Marchand.”
Kavle certainly isn’t treading water these days. He has become the top distance freestyler in the Berkshire League and is enjoying another outstanding campaign. At the 2012 Berkshire League Championships, won by Litchfield, he took both the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events. He was also on the second place 200-yard freestyle relay with Joey Janice, Colin Dunn, and Zach Crane, and on the winning 400-yard freestyle relay with Ryan Schoerner, Dunn, and Crane. At last year's Class S state meet, he was 6th in both the 200- and 500-freestyles, and was on the 11th place 400-freestyle relay team with Schoerner, Crane, and Eric Sandrib.
He has been just as good this season. In a recent loss to arch-rival Shepaug, Kavle was simply brilliant. He won the 200- and 500-freestyle events and also won the breaststroke, an enormous achievement for a swimmer. Modestly, Kavle says he wasn’t a natural at the sport.
“I've just been doing it as long as I can remember. I wouldn't know how to swim without the instruction of all the coaches who have taught me since I was little. Also, I feel like if I were truly a natural I'd be able to figure out the breaststroke,” although he did just that against Shepaug, which has some great swimmers of its own.
“My favorite stroke by far is freestyle, and I mostly swim the 200 and 500. I've always enjoyed the longer events better than sprints. For some reason they're just more comfortable for me. I swam a 50-meter freestyle last night and I felt like it was over before I even knew what was going on.”
Litchfield head coach Brown says Kavle is “without a doubt the hardest working individual I have had the privilege of coaching.” He added, “His work ethic is only part of the exceptional individual that Henry is. Henry carries a presence with him that is a true testament to his character and pride in his team. I know that I can count on Henry to face any challenge with 100 percent effort. This past Saturday, he led his teammates in a set of repeating 100 yards, 100 times, which lasted almost three hours. He did so without ever losing focus or drive. He is also one of the most coachable athletes I have ever seen.”
Brown said that Kavle makes immediate changes in the water that he knows will help to improve this swimming.
“Henry's teammates look to him to lead them to success at meets and within each practice. The first swimmer in the water for practice each and every day, Henry attends every optional practice for our team, as well as using his club team to help get in some additional training. Henry sets high goals for himself, and understands the work he has ahead of him to attain them. I have no doubt that Henry has the talent, and drive to become one of the best swimmers to ever come through the Litchfield swimming program.”
Kavle “felt really good” coming into this season. “In fact, my sister and I were talking one day over summer vacation about how excited we were. Like I said, I have awesome teammates and coaches, so I was really looking forward to this season. I knew that as a senior this was my last chance and I wanted to have a great season.”
He added, “I'm loving my senior year season so far. I've been working hard and having a great time, and I'm lucky to be on a team with great people and coaches. As for my high school career as a whole, I've loved every second of it and it's going to leave a big hole in my life when the season ends.”
Kavle practices with his high school team after school and on Saturdays, and does extra morning practice two days a week.
“I also try to make extra practices with a club team one or two times a week, depending on our meet schedule and other events. Our team also spends a fair bit of time doing dry land, working with medicine balls, stretch cords, etc.” He runs cross-country in the fall and rows in the spring, so he backs off swimming during those times. “However, I do pre-season swimming between cross-country and the start of the high school swim season, and I swim a few mornings a week (non-competitively) over the summer.”
He says that getting faster is “the entire point of swimming. There's no better feeling than dropping time in an event.”
Kavle isn’t sure of his college plans just yet.
“I'm still not sure about my swimming plans in college. I'd like to keep swimming, but I've heard it's a huge jump to make. I have other interests and pursuits, so for now I haven't decided.”
Besides, there is some unfinished work to do in high school and Henry Kavle is intent on completing his scholastic career on the winner’s stand.