The PVS Zone team had a very successful meet in Pittsburgh. The swimming was fast, spirits were high, and there was a lot of positive interaction between swimmers and coaches from many different PVS clubs. Though the team wasn't as large as it has been the past couple of years, PVS still managed a combined 2nd place finish, with the Boys finishing 2nd and the Girls finishing 4th.
Our 10&Under Boys were dominant throughout the meet, with an amazing 10 top 8 finishers, most in multiple events. Individual event winners included: Charlie Putnam in 200 free and 50 back, Mark Sarman in 100 fly, and Paul Trigonoplos in 50 breast. PVS placed 4 swimmers in the top 8 in the 200 free (Putnam, Sarman, John Kundrat, Matt Thomas) and 400 free (Kundrat, Sarman, Thomas, Nicholas Kotonias) events. In addition, the team of Putnam, Trigonoplos, Sarman, and Kundrat won both the 200 and 400 Medley Relays. Other top 8 finishers included Johnnie Germanis, Serge Gould, John McKenzie, and Nick Wimer.
The 10&Under Girls were by far our smallest age group, with only 7 swimmers entered. The girls swam very well, and were great about adding events and staying for relays, which really showed their team spirit. In a very competitive age group, top 8 finishes were hard to come by. Lindsay Mottola broke through with a top 8 finish in 100 back, and the 200 Medley Relay of Mottola, Julia Rivera, Katarina O'Reilly, and Jasmine Arzadon finished 8th as well. Special thanks go to Katarina O'Reilly for volunteering to swim her very first 100 fly, and Stephanie Pratt for volunteering to swim the 400 free. Both did best times!
The 11-12 boys showed excellent depth in an extremely competitive age group, where meet records and national records were falling left and right. PVS scored one on the final day of the meet, as Brady Fox came from behind to win the 200 fly in a meet record 2:26.46. Fox and Josh Thomas each had 5 individual top 8 finishes, while Bobby Chab finished in the top 8 in each of the 3 breaststroke events. In the 400 Free Relay, 200 Medley Relay, and 400 Medley Relay, our 11-12 Boys A and B relays both placed in the top 8. Jonathan Christensen, Tommy Cook, Wade Gong, and David Shen also had top 8 individual finishes.
The 11-12 Girls showed their strength by way of winning three relays: the 200 Free Relay (Ashley Danner, Jennifer Kotonias, Shannon Landers, Sarah Lynch), the 400 Free Relay (Danner, Kayla O'Malley, Landers, Kotonias), and the 200 Medley Relay (Landers, Lynch, Lindsey Marchand, Danner). Danner also won the 50 free, and had 5 other top 8 finishes. Kotonias, Landers, Lynch, Marchand, and Blair Webb each had individual top 8 finishes as well.
The 13-14 Boys were led by Philip Hinrichsen's victories in three tough events: 200 fly, 400 IM, and 1500 free. Philip also had top 8 finishes in 3 other events. Simone Melillo also scored a win, taking the 100 breast, and added 4 other top 8 finishes. Thomas Hale-Kupiec and Ben Mechak had 2 top 8 finishes each, while Chris Gibeily and Alex Leach each added another.
Lauren Ritter was the high point scorer in the 13-14 Girls age group. She won the 200 free, 400 free, and 200 back, and added 2 more top 8 finishes. Suzanne Schwee was top 8 in 100 back and 200 back, while Lynn Swiger was top 8 in 800 free and 1500 free. Theresa Gazo added a top 8 finish and had many great relay swims. Thanks to Rachel Glasser for volunteering to swim the 200 fly - she also did a best time!
The 15-18 Boys provided great energy to the team (Keith Diggs gets "cheerleader of the year" award) and also contributed many fast swims. Event winners included Tom Maddux in the 100 breast and Tom Koucheravy in the 1500 free. Each added a 2nd place finish as well. Keith Diggs and Ben McCorkle each had 3 top 8 finishes and outstanding relay swims. B.J. Dufresne had 2 top 8 finishes as well as the fastest 50 free split of anyone in the meet. Bryan Durazo added 2 top 8 finishes, while Drew Hellmann and Vincent Reydams added one a piece.
Relays were a strength for the 15-18 Girls, as they were victorious in the 400 Free Relay (Leigh Psaris, EB Kuhn, Allie Smith, Emily Kelly) and the 200 Medley Relay (Christine Yurechko, Kimberly Case, Kelly, Psaris), and 2nd in 2 other relays. Our B Relay was top 8 in 3 relays as well. Individually, Leigh Psaris was 1st in 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, and 400 free. Leigh Swiger added a win in the 200 breast. Alanna Ream had 3 top 8 finishes in the long distance events, while Laura Herrmann, Allie Smith, and Christine Yurechko had 2 top 8 finishes each. Mary Teresa Boland and Kimberly Case added 1 top 8 finish each.
Thanks to all the parents who helped out with timing and officiating. Also, thanks to the club coaches who, for the most part, stayed upstairs and let the Zone coaching staff do our jobs, though there were some exceptions. Having been on both sides of the coaching situation, I know it's hard to let some control go. In the future, we ask that parents and club coaches please trust that the Zone coaching staff will run things as best they can, and if there are procedural changes that need to be made, please understand that on deck at the meet is not the time to make them.
I would also like to ask that more clubs give consideration to promoting this meet to your swimmers. We were very short in 10&U Girls, and we had holes in other age groups that could have been filled by PVS swimmers who stayed home. Promoting the meet to your swimmers will give it value and hopefully result in better support. Over the past three years, I have noticed that the club coaches who brought the majority of their training groups to Zones had many swimmers do quite well. The 15-18s who swim at a Sectional level but have not made Nationals may find Zones as the competitive meet they need. It is no surprise that the Virginia team that won the past two Summer Zone meets has a selection process and fields their strongest team possible. I have no doubt that a PVS team that sent its strongest athletes would take 1st at this meet on a regular basis.
Overall, this trip seemed far less problematic than the past two years. The kids were great, and the parents and coaches were helpful. Many swimmers stayed extra days for relays, which the coaches and the other swimmers appreciated greatly. I want to thank Assistant Head Coach Kevin Ahearn for all of his help in doing anything he was asked to do. I also want to thank Eric Adams, Chris Huott, Gabe Ibanez, and James Taschek for running their age groups smoothly and helping out with many other things. And big thanks go to Linda Crudup who once again organized the trip, outfitting, and much more.