Camaraderie and enthusiasm is in strong supply with this fall's New Milford High School girls' swimming and diving squad.

Now it's up to first-year coach Mary VanDoren and her pool crew to turn that attitude into faster times and possibly a meet win or two along the way.

At 0-5 this week, the Green Wave headed Tuesday to Stratford in quest of individual improvement and, as a result, upgraded team hopes for victory.

"We're much closer to these teams in points than last year," reported coach VanDoren this week. "Everyone on the team has been improving their times, and our newcomers have quickly learned the basics of the sport and are already contributing points."

Not to be overlooked for the rookie coach is feedback she's received from rival teams "how impressed they are with the girls' enthusiasm and sportsmanship."

"I love this team," said Ms. VanDoren. "They've completely come together, veterans and newcomers alike, and they all cheer for each other no matter what that swimmer's time is."

The top Green Wave swimmers to date have been Kelsey Linstrum and Maggie Heaton, each of whom has already qualified for state competition later this autumn.

Kelsey has qualified in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle and is right on the brink in the 500, while Maggie has made the grade in the 100-yard freestyle, the 100-yard butterfly and the 200-yard individual medley.

Others who have joined their teammates as swimming qualifiers for the South-West Conference meet are Rachel Berger, Samantha Martin, Toni Viola, Danielle Cambareri, rookie swimmer Lexi Prevost, Brice Schenkel and Holly Rehm,.

NMHS' potent diving quartet of Ashley O'Connor, Jessica Cochrane, Libby Martin and Colleen Menard has qualified for the SWC meet and first-year diver Olivia Taylor is knocking on the door.

"[As a team,] we talk a lot about individual times, and diving scores, which are very impressive," said coach VanDoren. "And our veterans are helping me help out the new swimmers a lot in order to help build a stronger team for the future, so we can actually win a lot of meets."

-- Norm Cummings