West Essex YMCA appoints new swim team director

James Butcher

LIVINGSTON, NJ — The West Essex YMCA has promoted James Butcher to the role of competitive swim director; he will be responsible for overseeing the Y’s Racers Swim Team program, as well as the Piranhas Special Olympics Swim Team. He succeeds former competitive swim director Colin Kostyak.

The Racers program provides opportunities for young athletes to strengthen their swimming abilities while also experiencing a team sport environment. Swimmers practice throughout the week and participate in meets sanctioned by USA Swimming and YMCA Swimming. The current season kicked off on Sept. 12.

Butcher, of West Orange, is a former Racers swim team member and has served as assistant coach, lifeguard and swim lessons instructor at the West Essex Y. He is a recent graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University in Florham Park, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in government and law, with a concentration in global politics and history. At FDU, he was a member of the Devils NCAA Division III swim team during his undergraduate term. He’s held leadership positions in many other college organizations, including chapter president of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity.

Butcher has also been head coach to the Piranhas Special Olympics Swim Team at the West Essex Y since March of 2021, and prior to that was the team’s assistant coach. He will continue to play an active coaching role with the team, which helps people with disabilities become stronger swimmers.

He has been swimming since he was 8 years old and swimming competitively since the age of 12. In addition to the Racers swim team at the Y, he swam for the West Orange Wave.

“I’m thrilled to be able to share my passions for the sport of swimming and for coaching,” Butcher said. “My goal is to create an environment that is not just about working toward competition and achievement, but is also fun, friendly and unified. I want to see the competitive swim program succeed and I’m excited to see where I can take it.”

Butcher plans to add more social and team-building events to the calendar, and he wants to start a mentorship program in which senior teammates are paired with junior ones.

“We are fortunate to have James step into the director role. His solid background and enthusiasm for seeing youth succeed will be key in building a thriving competitive swim program at the Y,” said Cheryl Tuturice, district executive director at the West Essex Y.