Sprinting to a first-place finish in the 200-Yard Individual Medley, Co-Captain Darren Ty ’16 finished with a time of 1:54.45 minutes to secure key points for Andover Boys Swimming & Diving at the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (Nepsac) Championships on the weekend of March 4th at Deerfield Academy. Andover clinched a first-place finish over Deerfield, edging the defending champions by three and a half points. The team topped the final scoreline at 340.5-337-319, beating Deerfield and Suffield Academy, who came in second and third, respectively. This is the team’s sixth championship title in ten years.
Christian Alberga ’17 said, “Since the end of last season, our goal was to come back this season and win the New England Championship. Apart from the rigorous training that we endured all season, we also had to mentally prepare for this meet as we were going into it as underdogs, while the meet was held at Deerfield, who were the favorites. Coming off of our dual-meet season – undefeated in the league – we had hope, but we had to really step up individually and as a team in order to beat the powerhouses of Deerfield and Suffield.”
Ty said, “During the weeks of practice leading up to the championship meet, the team focused on what we ourselves could control during our races: starts, turns, and finishes. We strived to perfect our technique so we wouldn’t have to really work or think about it during our races. We focused our mindset to see the meet as a team event rather than individual races.”
During the preliminary competitions, Andover swimmers competed in 29 events, with swimmers marking Personal Records in 25 of them.
Nick Isenhower ’18 said, “We had 25 out of 29 personal bests during [the preliminary rounds]. This got us a ton of our swimmers in the finals and it ultimately won us the meet. I’m proud that we mentally came together and showed up for both prelims and finals – the meet was really close, and our mentality was absolutely crucial to success.”
In an email to The Phillipian, Head Coach David Fox wrote, “I am happy for the boys that they won the meet, but I am much happier that we had such a high percentage of best-ever performances. That everyone – swimmers and divers – surpassed his personal best (or was less than a second from doing so) is a testament to the culture the boys embraced: working hard, sweating the details, and supporting one another.”
After the preliminary competitions, multiple Andover swimmers were in position to score. Isenhower claimed second place in the 200-Yard Freestyle and Co-Captain Marcello Rossi ’16 placed fourth, with times of 1:42.68 minutes and 1:43.29 minutes, respectively. Rossi also claimed third place in the 100-Yard Butterfly with a time of 51.85 seconds, and Alberga earned fourth place in the 50-Yard Freestyle with a time of 21.33 seconds.
Ty, Isenhower, Rossi, and Alberga went on to claim second place in the 200-Yard Freestyle Relay with a time of 1:25.48 minutes, earning them All-American Consideration. Andover’s strong finish in the 200-Yard Freestyle Relay boosted the team’s overall score and ultimately sealed its win.
Strong finishes from Thomas Choi ’16, Nick Faulkner ’16, Sarp Orgul ’16, Daniel Tran ’17, and Richard Zhong ’17 also contributed to Andover’s win. Ty, Jonathan Xue ’17, and Jacob Hudgins ’19 finished in third, seventh and 13th places in the 100-Yard Breaststroke with times of 57.81 seconds, 1:00.50 minutes, and 1:02.40 minutes, respectively.
Isenhower said, “We picked up key points early on. Darren’s win in the [200-Yard Individual Medley] set a tone for the rest of the meet. As it has been before, the breaststroke came out as one of our key events – the points scored there between Ty, Hudgins, and Xue set us up for success.”
In the diving event, Andover divers Jack Belluche ’16, Matt Grottkau ’17 and Robert DeLaus ’16 added to the team’s lead with respective fifth, sixth, and tenth place finishes. Belluche scored 340.80 points, Grottkau finished with 316.30 points. and DeLaus earned 299.20 points for Andover.
Ty said, “Everyone put in their best effort to work together to bring ourselves to achieve what we did. The divers – Jack Belluche, Rob DeLaus, and Matt Grottkau – gave us some crucial points. The rest of the meet was up and down between teams, but after the last individual event we were able to pull ahead.”
Rossi said, “I am most proud of the team for remaining humble through the meet. We did not go in expecting to win, and that insecurity propelled us in all of our races to swim to the best of our ability.”
Although Andover will lose the talent and leadership of six Senior swimmers and two Senior divers, the team hopes to complete another successful season next winter.
Alberga said, “I want to continue the team’s tradition of upholding values of respect, courtesy, and humility as we not only represent ourselves, but our school community as well. Next season, I want every guy to be able to step up and show everyone why we aren’t just a championship team, but also that we are a part of the 105-year old Andover Swimming dynasty. Our goal is to win New England’s again next year, but more than that, I want everyone to be able to look at the character of each member on our team and be able to admire our culture and the values that we uphold.”
When asked about the future of the team, Coach Fox wrote, “We are losing tremendous talent and leadership from our Co-Captains Marcello Rossi and Darren Ty as well as our other seniors: Michael Najem, Sarp Orgul, Nick Faulkner, and Thomas Choi. We will see who is in the pool in November, and we will again focus on being the best swimmers and divers we can be within the context that is life at Andover.”