by Tom Utescher
While Springside Chestnut Hill Academy is one of the few Inter-Ac League schools without it own pool, the Blue Devils’ swim team still was able to make some major improvements this season.
A year ago, the SCH girls finished dead last at the Eastern Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championship, but last month at the 2015 meet, the Devils climbed up to 13th place in a field of 23 schools.
The current team is an outgrowth of the program at the all-girls Springside School. There were only two boys in the program this winter, but one of them, junior Ryan Torie, had a major impact and powered SCH to an 18th place outcome out of the 28 boys’ teams in attendance.
Prior to the Easterns gathering at the La Salle University facility, Torie excelled at the Inter-Ac League championships, winning both the 50 and 100-yard freestyle races, and breaking the Malvern Prep pool record in the 100 with a time of 46.05 seconds.
At Easterns, his time of 20.91 in the 50 free tied him for second place with Penn Charter junior Jack Mahoney, and in the 100 he finished third in 45.93.
Second-year SCH coach Sharon Lasorda said that on the girls’ side, almost every individual and relay team produced season-best performances at the Eastern Championships.
In the 200 medley relay, junior Lexi Prochniak, freshman Catherine Cooney, and sophomores Emma Lutz and Grace McKeon finished eighth, eclipsing their time at the Inter-Ac meet by three seconds. There was a school-record effort in the 200 freestyle relay, where McKeon, Prochniak, sophomore Cait Klauder, and Lutz placed 10th.
The Blue Devils’ 400 free relay lopped a whopping seven seconds off its time at the Inter-Ac’s. Klauder led off and was followed by freshmen Samiyah Wardlow and Cooney, with junior Lexi Smilow anchoring the effort.
Individually, Lutz came in eighth in the 50 free with a PR time of 25.11, and she also extended her personal limits in the 100 free. McKeon made it into the top 10 in the backstroke, and produced new personal bests both in this race and in the 200 freestyle.
Cooney picked up a PR in the breaststroke, where she finished one spot out of the top 10.
Some of the best news in all this is that SCH has almost everyone back in the pool next winter. The only seniors on the roster this season were Kerry Dowd, Maddie Nicol and Yane Willie for the girls, and John Schweitzer for the boys.