by Tom Utescher
There are some talented young swimmers among the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy girls, but aside from a pair of 11th graders, the Lions’ roster is made of freshmen and sophomores.
SCH encountered a more seasoned squad during last Wednesday afternoon’s excursion to Penn Charter, where juniors and seniors swimming for the Quakers won almost all of the individual events while also making a strong showing in the relays.
The result was a 99-75 victory for host PC, which improved to 3-3 overall while the Lions slipped to 2-4.
Veteran Penn Charter coach Paul Coleman, who arrived on the School House Lane campus in 2001 and spent many of the intervening years guiding the girls’ team, has now moved over to pilot the boys’ squad.
The new mentor for the Quaker girls, and for the Penn Charter Aquatic Club, is Crystal Keelan. After graduating from Council Rock North High School in Newtown, Keelan swam at York College of Pennsylvania, then she returned to her high school alma mater for a five-year stint as head coach before coming to Penn Charter.
Keelan’s new team opened last Wednesday’s meet by claiming the top two places in the 200-yard medley relay, with times of two minutes, 1.50 seconds, and 2:06.17.
The winning quartet consisted of senior Carly Zurcher, sophomore Nicole Cousounis, junior Amanda Beck, and senior Meredith Wurtz, and in second place were sophomore Maddie Mahoney, senior Maria Georgiou, and juniors Glynis Braun and Anna Ten Have.
Last November Wurtz signed a letter of intent to continue her swimming career at Marist College, and Georgiou, a champion rower, will pursue that sport at the University of Pennsylvania. The Quakers’ third senior tri-captain, Zurcher, also plays water polo and softball at PC, and she is still sorting out her college options.
Springside Chestnut Hill placed third in the opening relay last Wednesday, with the foursome of Lexi Prochniak, Cait Klauder, Gwyn Bjordammen, and Nicole Novo timed in 2:12.78. All are freshmen except Klauder, an eighth-grader.
Also in the first segment of swimming events, the Quakers captured victories in the 200-yard freestyle (Ten Have; 2:10.13), the 200 individual medley (Georgiou; 2:24.04), and the 50 free (Beck; 26.81 seconds). Cousounis delivered second place in the 200 free in 2:14.26.
SCH had freshman Lexi Smilow finish second in the 200 I.M. (2:31.20) and third in the 200 free (2:33.10), while Prochniak was runner-up in the 50 free (28.14). The Lions also had third-place showings from sophomore Maddy Aslansan in the 50 free (30.55) and freshman Anna Kane in the 200 I.M. (2:41.69).
There was a break for the diving competition, where PC swept the top three places thanks to (in order of finish) freshmen Willow Tierno and Caroline Uhlman, and junior Sasha Gorski.
The swimming resumed with the host team going one-two in the 100 butterfly through the efforts of Zurcher (1:04.20) and Braun (1:08.08), while visiting freshman Jenna Yorko was third (1:18.08). Winning the 100 free in 57.68 seconds, PC’s Wurtz was followed by two ninth-graders, Bjordammen of SCH (1:02.14) and the Quakers’ own Caitlin McLafferty (1:06.85).
The home team’s Ten Have took the 500 free in 5:59.61, and in this 20-lap affair Novo, the SCH freshman, was not very far behind, with a time of 6:02.01. Another Lions swimmer, sophomore Maddie Nicol, placed third in 6:12.65.
Next up were the freestyle sprinters in the 200-yard relay, and here the winning figure of 1:49.82 was recorded by PC’s Wurtz, Mahoney, Ten Have, and Georgiou. The Lions had sophomore Kyra Jackson, Yorko, Prochniak and Bjordammen come in second at 1:54.39, and in third with a time of 2:01.87 was the Quaker quartet of freshman Pam Gonzalez, McClafferty, junior Cherie Doan, and Zurcher.
Beck tabbed her second individual victory of the day for PC by winning the 100 backstroke in 1:05.49. Her teammate, Mahoney, was third in 1:15.18, and in between was the Lions’ Prochniak, in 1:09.54.
By this point in the meet, Penn Charter had built up a 99-54 lead in the team scoring. For the last two events the Quakers took their foot off the gas and participated on an exhibition basis, allowing SCH to reduce the point spread.
The top three places in the 100 breast stroke went to the Lions’ Novo (1:21.97), Klauder (1:29.38), and freshman Alexandra Fiol-Mahon (1:38.53). Unofficially, PC’s Cousounis completed the race in 1:17.62.
First pace in the 400 free relay went to Nicol, sophomore Yane Willie, Smilow, and Novo of SCH in 4:46.60, while off-the-books, Charter’s Wurtz, Cousounis, Braun and Georgiou finished in 4:04.71.