Many members of the current Shepaug Valley High School swim team had barely started school the last time the Spartans fell shy of a Berkshire League title.

The Region 12 pool juggernaut has claimed 10 straight Berkshire championship under the guidance of coaches Dick Ayer and Todd Dyer.

This winter, Jessica Wilson is at the helm as coach Dyer takes a sabbatical.

During her short tenure to date, the former Eastern Connecticut State University swim standout from Torrington has learned quickly the Spartans' winning ways have been built not just on pool talents but also on attitude and pride.

"I have really been enjoying my time with the team," she said this week.

"Coming into such a successful program was nerve-racking," coach Wilson admitted, "but the kids made it easy because they have a great work ethic."

She noted the contributions of captains Elyse Andrews, Gina DeMeo and Tommy Morse, as well as other team leaders.

"The leaders on the team played a big part in making the transition so easy," coach Wilson explained. "They were very welcoming."

Shepaug opened its regular season with a 95-80 defeat to Holy Cross of Waterbury and bounced back to outswim Berkshire foe Lewis Mills, 104-81.

Last week at the Shepaug pool in Washington, the Spartans eased by neighboring Wamogo, 98-77, to improve to 2-0 in the league (see photographs).

Clara Wolfe captured firsts in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle in respective times of 2:12.98 and 5:46.97, while Colin Reilly touched first in 24.68 in the 50-yard freestyle and in the 100-yard freestyle.

Other individual wins were delivered by Tommy Morse at 2:28.5 in the 200-yard individual medley, Mariah Hoffman with 145.90 points in diving and Freddie Pitcher at 1:03.46 in the 100-yard butterfly.

Relay victories were registered by the medley quartet of Pitcher, Ken Buell, Morse and Clayton Firmender in 1:59.25 and the 200-yard freestyle crew of Morse, Ray Cook, Gina DeMeo and Reilly in 1:47.99.

"The team knows that they have to work hard to remain successful," said coach Wilson. "They have done very well so far, and we hope to keep the momentum going."

The Spartans are keeping very busy during the holidays and right out of the chute after New Year's Day.

Shepaug was set to travel to Waterbury Tuesday to face Sacred Heart and today (Friday) will host Watertown.

Following a rematch next Tuesday with Wamogo, the Spartans will challenge Berkshire title hopeful Litchfield next Friday.

Coach Wilson is confident the leadership she's seen from her veteran swimmers will give her squad a good shot at success.

"I will give the team a small talk the day before a meet, or when I think they need the inspiration," she reflected, "but then the captains and upperclassmen on the team will jump in and tell the team how much success means to them and the program.

"Hearing it from their own teammates means a lot," she concluded. "I am really impressed with how proud they are."