by Tom Utescher
In their final regular-season swim meet, the Blue Devils of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy fell to host Baldwin School, 94-62, last Friday afternoon. While there are several boys who swim for the school in co-ed meets, this was a females-only event at the girls school in Bryn Mawr.
The most recently-established and most sparsely populated team in the Inter-Ac League, as well as one of the few squads without a pool on campus, the Devils are not without enthusiasm and talent. Second-year head coach Sharon LaSorda said the backbone of the team is formed by veterans such as juniors Lexi Prochniak and Lexi Smilow and sophomores Cait Klauder, Emma Lutz, and Grace McKeon.
“I also just got my breast stroker, Catherine Cooney [a freshman] back from an injury,” the coach noted. “I’m starting to put together our fastest combinations for relays.”
Another talented freshman, Samiyah Wardlaw, swam in relays and individually in last Friday’s meet.
“At this point we’re focused on the Inter-Ac championships and Easterns,” said LaSorda. “We trained hard in practice early in the week. We had a meet yesterday [against Academy of Notre Dame] and we swam tired, so I was happy to see us swim better today.”
As part of planning for the major events just ahead, the Blue Devils did not enter several events last Friday, so Baldwin was unopposed in the 200 yard individual medley and the 500 yard freestyle race. On the other hand, the visiting Blue Devils did not have to contend with Baldwin’s Harvard-bound All-American, Valerie Yoshimura, who was confined to the deck due to back problems.
The meet got underway with an SCH win in the 200 medley relay, where Prochniak, Cooney, Lutz, and McKeon prevailed in one minute, 59.07 seconds, while Baldwin’s Saranne Louth, Taylor Trapp, Anna Kalandadze, and Ryanna Newman came in second in 2:02.78.
The host Bears steadily built up a lead in the team scoring as Elizabeth Bunn won the 200 freestyle in 2:03.70, Kalandadze led a Baldwin sweep in the 200 I.M., and Trapp triumphed in the 50 freestyle (26.72). With the team tally 39-19 at this point, there was a pause in the meet program for Baldwin’s Senior Day ceremony.
SCH had seen McKeon claim second place in the 200 free (2:06.40), while the Blue Devils snagged second and third place in the 50 free thanks to Wardlaw (28.47) and Klauder (28.64).
Right after the break, Wardlaw came back to place second in the 100 butterfly (1:18.01), which was won by the Bears’ Kalandadze (1:09.27). The visitors picked up a win in the 100 free, where Lutz (57.33 seconds) nipped Louth (57.96) of the host team. Springside Chestnut Hill then sat out the 500 free, which Bunn won for Baldwin.
Blue Devils were back in action for a victory in the 200 freestyle relay, were McKeon, Prochniak, Klauder, and Lutz turned in a time of 1:49 flat. Baldwin was second and third, with runner-up honors going to Trapp, Michelle Mariette, Samantha O’Keefe, and Newman (1:52.74).
In the backstroke, the Blue Devils’ McKeon (1:06.03) came in second behind Baldwin’s Louth, while in the breast stroke Cooney touched up first in 1:13.57, while the next two spots went to Trapp and Anna Calabro.
Even without Yoshimura in the pool to churn out first-place results, Baldwin’s depth had the hosts ahead of SCH, 94-50, going into the final event. The Devils were able to close the gap a bit with a one-two finish in the 400 free relay. Lutz, Prochniak, Smilow, and Cooney won handily in 3:56.95, and next came the quartet of Wardlaw, senior Yane Willie, sophomore Maya Bennett, and Klauder in 4:15.96.
“I was pleased with the times of the medley relay and the 200 free relay,” SCH’s LaSorda said. “The girls also did well with some of the technical things we’ve been working on, like not breathing coming out of turns. The idea is that when we get to the big meets, those things have become automatic, and we don’t have to think about doing them.”