The St. John’s varsity swim and dive team performed well at the National Catholic Swimming and Diving Championships meet on Jan. 19-20. The team spent the weekend at Loyola University in Baltimore, MD, where they competed against other teams from across the East Coast in the biggest meet of their season.
Laila Michel ’19 gave some more details: “There were prelims on Saturday and finals on Sunday. There are cuts for it, so we had to qualify as well. And it’s really big, we usually score pretty high at top five or six out of 20 or 30 teams. People also sometimes swim their best times there, so it’s really important.”
In the midst of the season, this was an important meet for the Cadets in terms of their performances as athletes, especially for team captains Michel, Keyla Brown ’19, Michael Penafiel ’19, Emma Mitchell ’19, Shelby Ball ’19, and Thomas Steele ’19. Brown explained how this meet was different from the others: “It’s a championship meet, so you have some of the top swimmers in Catholic schools there. The intensity of the meet is higher, so the stakes are higher because you’re going against faster people not just from DC, but from all over the East Coast.”
St. John’s came to compete with many swimmers scoring high enough to swim in the fast finals on Sunday. The girls scored fifth in swimming and sixth when combined with the diving score. The boys did well, too. According to Penafiel: “I think (the meet) went very well. We kind of came in as the underdogs, but a lot of our swimmers out there in relay did very well. We dropped two seconds from our fastest (time) and another two at finals, which put us in a really good position going forward.”
Moreover, this meet was very important for the swimmers as a team, according to Michel: “This was an important meet because it’s our only travel meet where we all go together as a team on a bus and stay in a hotel. The energy’s really high because we get to spend that whole time together, so it’s usually the meet where the team bonds the most. I always look forward to that meet.”