Two seniors’ perseverance leads them to key roles with Cherry Hill East boys swimming

Christian Termine and Ethan Staiman have gone from not make the Cougars’ boys swimming team as freshman to becoming key parts of Cherry Hill East’s 2016–17 team.

Cherry Hill High School East boys swimming seniors Christian Termine and Ethan Staiman know the meaning of hard work.

Both shared similar journeys in their high school swimming careers. Despite having been swimming competitively since the age of 8, neither Termine nor Staiman was able to make the Cherry Hill East boys swimming team as freshmen.

Today, both seniors aren’t just on the team; they are key swimmers for the Cougars. Termine is one of Cherry Hill East’s better sprint freestyle swimmers, while Staiman is a strong swimmer in the backstroke. Together, they are on a mission to help the Cougars win their second straight state championship in three years.

Termine and Staiman knew the leap into the high school pool would be difficult as freshmen. Both grew up at local Cherry Hill swim clubs, with Termine swimming at Woodcrest Swim Club and Staiman at Fox Hollow Swim Club. Having grown up around other high school swimmers, the pair knew it wouldn’t be easy to make the team at Cherry Hill East.

“It was a big leap,” Termine said. “I knew the team was great throughout my youth, because I swam with all the older kids in high school (at Woodcrest.)”

“It was a little crushing,” Staiman said of not making the team. “I wanted to swim and I was told, you’re not going to swim. After talking to my parents and my winter coach, I realized I needed to get better.”

Not making the team as freshmen motivated Termine and Staiman to work even harder in 2014. Both strived to improve on a number of areas in the pool.

“I improved my stamina, my speed and especially my passion for the sport,” Termine said. “After doing a lot more intensive practices in different programs, it showed me how much dedication is needed for swimming.”

“I’ve got a lot better stamina,” Staiman said. “I can do longer distance events whereas freshman year, if you asked me to swim more than four laps, I wouldn’t be able to do it competitively.”

This season, Termine and Staiman have lent a helping hand to some of the team’s younger swimmers. Staiman recalled how tough tryouts were as a freshman and used that experience to help a couple of the team’s incoming freshmen overcome nerves.

The intrasquad competition doesn’t end at tryouts. Cherry Hill East’s team has so much depth, teammates are constantly trying to top one another’s times.

“You’re not just racing (the opposing team’s swimmers), you’re racing your two teammates,” Staiman said.

The intense competition helped Staiman reach a new height early this season. He completed the 100 backstroke in less than a minute for the first time and hopes to drop his time as low as 56 seconds by the end of the season.

Both seniors are hoping to guide Cherry Hill East back to a state championship. The Cougars won the NJSIAA Public Group A state championship in 2015 over Westfield High School. In last year’s rematch, Cherry Hill East lost in the state title meet. Last year’s championship defeat is the only time the Cougars have lost a dual meet in Termine and Staiman’s three years on the team.

“We’re extremely hungry,” Termine said. “We see the kids up in Westfield as our biggest competition. Other than that, the biggest competition for our team is the swimmers on it.”