While the Maine South boys swimming team had a competitiveness to it last season, this year’s squad has taken its intensity to a new level.
A big reason for the change has been the addition of Jonathan Ramoska, a junior transfer from Marmion.
“Before he arrived, practice was more of a ‘just do what you do’ kind of thing for some guys,” said coach Donald Kura. “Jon brings a different level of intensity than the guys were used to.”
That means training with a purpose and not getting complacent during sets.
“You see it in his mannerisms, you see that he challenges himself,” Kura said. “He’s always racing others, and it’s contagious. When he’s sore and hurting, he swims even faster.”
“My work ethic helps the other kids work harder,” Ramoska said. “It helps to motivate the team.”
Even four-year swimmers have changed their habits following Ramoska’s arrival.
“His work ethic is crazy with how hard he goes at every point in practice,” senior Makai DeNeve-Arnam said. “Since he joined the team we’ve looked better.”
Kura also noted Ramoska’s influence on DeNeve-Arnam.
“It’s really helped Makai,” he said. “I’ve coached him now for four years, and this is the hardest I’ve seen him work on a daily basis.”
Ramoska likewise pushes himself by looking to Maine South’s top swimmers.
“I really like to race against Makai and Marco [Padron] — those are two of the faster sprinters on the team,” he said. “I’ve tried to push myself on my own, and it’s hard to go your fastest because it’s just you and the clock.”
Ramoska — who says he gets his work ethic from advice his father gave him growing up — is “very focused and committed to doing his best,” Kura said.
“Some athletes don’t know exactly what their best times are. [Jon] knows his lifetime best times, and where and when he did them.”
The junior’s list of individual goals, which he keeps as a screenshot on his iPod, includes making the state qualifying standards. He said his best time this season in the 100-yard freestyle is 49.76 seconds and his top time in the 200 free is 1:48.68. The state qualifying times are 48.01 and 1:45.12, respectively.
“Knowing my times is the way to get to state,” he said. “I always know how far I am from making state cuts.”