Matt Marcil can’t wait for the football season to begin.
Yes, the Attleboro High School student is a freestyle swimmer, but he’s also a member of the Bombardier’s marching band.
So, he’s looking forward to the day that he and his bandmates will be marching through the gates of Tozier-Cassidy Field. The band’s music will be piercing the air prior to the game, capturing the attention of family and friends, as the band salutes the nation with a rendition of the National Anthem before kickoff. At halftime, Marcil will perform in a multi-tune concert in full dress regalia.
As soon as the winter swimming season ended for the Bombardier freestyle swimmer at the MIAA South Sectional Meet, Marcil’s attention turned to his trumpet.
“Swimming is my No. 1 passion,” the Lincoln, R.I.-based Black Marlins Swim Club member said, “but music and playing my trumpet are a close second.”
Marcil is one of a handful of AHS swimmers, who are also band members and sophomore classmates — Anthony Burns (trumpet), Alex Harrop (drums) and Zach Dorrance (trumpet).
That membership also extends to another extracurricular activity at Attleboro High, the “Just Dance Club,” a collection of video game devotees, which includes other swimmers such as Dylan Nisbet, Kyle Norman and Harrop.
So far this year, Marcil, a trumpet-playing member of the Jazz Band, Concert Band, Marching Band and Percussion Ensemble, specifically, has had all spring concert series dates scratched in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. His planned swimming preparation for the New England U.S. Swimming Club Championship Meet March 20 at MIT was also canceled due to the health crisis.
But there’s a silver lining.
“I’ve been getting in a good amount of practice time (on his trumpet),” Marcil said.
“I miss being in the pool, swimming is my best de-stresser,” Marcil said of the unexpected circumstances of being a student-athlete these days. “After a long day, I would just calm down,” he said of plunging into a pool. The endless repetition of laps was soothing to his soul.
“Now, I have nothing to do, I’ve been doing home exercises” he added. “But I have not been very active, not nearly what I would do during the swim season.”
Marcil plays the “B-flat” trumpet, owning a Bach and a Stradivarius model — one a concert horn, the other a marching band horn. He also plays the xylophone and bass drums with the Percussion Ensemble and is a capable pianist. In addition, he’s attempting to learn the violin.
“I started with music in the middle school band,” Marcil said. “Many of my same best friends that I started swimming with thought about joining the band. I was really bad (on the trumpet) at first. I got into it. I practiced a lot more. When I got to high school, I got a lot more interested in it.”
Marcil practiced an hour a day in band class, with additional Jazz Band practices on Monday and Percussion Ensemble on Friday.
“It’s like eight hours in-school practice and at home, I try to get in at least 30 minutes a day of practice, at least,” he said.
Marcil and the AHS Band competed in three fall showcases, taking a gold medal in Lawrence.
Marcil is now without a spring season of music after the AHS Band had to cancel a trip to Washington, D.C. for a pre-Memorial Day parade. He is also minus a spring — and maybe summer — season of club swimming, representing the Black Marlins in U.S. Swimming short- and long-course meets throughout New England.
“Matt is an all-around swimmer that our team counts on to win races and score points,” said AHS coach Sarah Faulkner. “He can swim backstroke and breaststroke in the medley relays and he’s the fastest 50 freestyle swimmer our team has.”
More than the notable performances, Marcil has become a true team leader.
“Matt is a teammate who will take time to help novice swimmers in the pool,” Faulkner said. “He is consistently thinking of the meet lineups from a strategic standpoint. He knows that it is more than an individual sport — and the team aspect is important. He has offered to switch up events to help the team — and lose events that he is trying to qualify for.”
Marcil’s swimming career began when he was about six years old. He became a member of the Fuller Swim Team out of Lincoln, which practiced at the MacColl YMCA in nearby Cumberland.
“A couple of my friends (especially Harrop) used to go there for lessons and hang out there and that’s how it started for me with swimming,” Marcil said. “I found out that I was pretty good at it. I like the repetition, going back and forth – the focus, getting in a zone.”
Marcil played other sports, but found slicing through the water, either doing the freestyle, the backstroke, the breaststroke or the butterfly, better suited his athletic traits and psyche.
“Right away, I knew that I was good at it and it was something that I could do individually that I could be better at,” Marcil said. “And with swimming, I love that it’s a full-body workout.”
He specialized in the backstroke, then became a breaststroker and has now delved into becoming the best of the Bombardiers in the freestyle events as a relay team member, AHS’ team-leading point-taker this winter season.
At the Hockomock League Meet this season, Marcil took fourth place in both the 100 freestyle (54.11) and 100 backstroke (1:02.6), while being a member of the fifth place 200 freestyle relay team.
The 5-foot-8, 140-pound Marcil has clocked personal best times of 23.8 in the 50 freestyle, 53.2 in the 100 freestyle and posted a 59-second flat time last summer in a club meet in the backstroke.
Marcil is accomplishing his second semester studies online as the pandemic has suspended classes at Attleboro High.
“It takes some getting used to,” Marcil said. “I definitely wake up later (8 a.m.) than I did before (5 a.m.). It’s better, I get a little more rest.”
Marcil would head over to the Attleboro YMCA pool for some before-school laps and practice, spend six-plus hours in the classroom, and head to Black Marlins Club practice for a few hours at the MacColl Pool.
“So I’d be in the water three hours a day most of the time, unless if I had a band practice,” Marcil said. “It’s really rough not being in the pool. For me, after a long time without swimming, I’ll get back into it really quickly.
“My times won’t be what they were. Surprisingly, what I found was that after long breaks, I’m actually faster. You wouldn’t think it. Maybe, it’s just the rest. I’d come back and get at PR (personal best time) with just a little bit of practice.”
Marcil relishes the individual challenges that swimming poses, chasing the clock, trying to better his times. Similarly, much of those same challenges are inherent in his musical endeavors.
“I work better when I’m the master,” Marcil said. “I can’t blame (a bad performance) on my team. I’m the only person to blame. The only one to get better is me personally.
“Playing the trumpet my second biggest de-stresser! It’s the same motivation for swimming as it is for the trumpet – you have to practice a ton. Practice brings you results – the more you practice in band, the better you will play. The more you practice in the pool, the better your times will be.”