The Lynnfield High School Swimming and Diving team put its depth on display this past Sunday in the annual Cape Ann League Championship meet. Despite not placing first in a single event, the Pioneers put forth yet another complete team effort to win the meet for the first time in school history.
Lynnfield clinched the league title the week before with a win over North Reading to finish the regular season at 6-0 (5-0 CAL). However, the Pioneers were determined to leave no question as to who was the top team in the league this year.
Two years ago, after finishing the season 5-0-1 to capture its first league title, Lynnfield went on to finish third in the league championship meet, leaving many to wonder who was truly the league’s top team. The Pioneers used that as motivation heading into this Sunday’s meet and distanced themselves from the competition with a team total of 521 points to Hamilton-Wenham’s second place total of 476.
Sixth year head coach Jeff Boyd kept the memories of past shortcomings in the championship meet fresh in his mind heading into this year’s meet. Even one of the meet’s officials, Ed White, reminded Boyd of the significance of winning Sunday’s competition.
“Before the meet he asked me if I thought we had a chance this year, and I told him I thought this would be our year,” Boyd explained. “He then went on to say ‘winning the regular season championship is nice, but you’ve also got to win this meet to be considered the true champion.’ I’m kind of glad he said that, because this group of kids really are true champions.”
And they celebrated like champions when the final scores were announced as the group of euphoric swimmers surrounded their coach and launched him into the pool where he would share a memorable high-five with senior captain Alison Council. The moment was captured by the cameras of dozens of onlookers and the team, along with their drenched coach, gathered around the diving board for one final championship photo-op.
“It was really a great moment. Bittersweet in a way,” said Boyd. “This is a really special group and I can’t believe our ride is actually over.”
The meet’s format favored Lynnfield as the top 16 individual finishers score points as well as the top 8 relays. While the Pioneers lacked the speed in any event to capture a first place, they overwhelmed the competition with their depth. This was most effectively displayed in the 50-yard freestyle. In the event’s final championship heat, Lynnfield filled four of the pool’s eight lanes with junior Matt DeVito taking second at 24.52. Senior Joe Maglio took fifth (25.95), and fellow senior captain Mike Welter took seventh (26.30). Sophomore Zach Glowik added even more points with an eighth place finish (26.55).
Junior Josh Hayden, in just his second time swimming the event, earned league all-star status with a third place finish in the 200 IM (2:25.58) – a five second drop from the only other time he swam it one week prior. Hayden would also finish fifth in the 100 backstroke with a personal best time of 1:07.06.
Junior Alexandra Kartsounis was the league’s top girl in the 100 backstroke and finished fourth overall in the event at 1:05.37. She also took fifth overall in the 100 butterfly at 1:06.13.
Senior Tim Tsui closed out his swimming career as the league’s top male swimmer in the 500 with a personal best time of 5:54.49 which was good enough for fifth overall. Teammate Mike Lanzillotti, a junior, came in right behind him with a sixth place finish at 5:54.82 – another personal best. The duo also finished in sequence in the 200 freestyle with Tsui taking fourth overall in 2:06.93 and Lanzillotti taking fifth in 2:07.60.
Sophomore Susan Yee, who battled injuries all year, had a pair of key finishes for the Pioneers with a fourth place finish in the 100 breaststroke (1:15.43) and a seventh place finish in the 100 butterfly (1:07.36).
Senior Harry Fogarty posted a personal best time and earned all-star status in his final 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:11.29 which was good enough for third.
Sophomore Bailey Fanikos was a repeat all-star in diving with a third place finish and captured sixth in the 100 breaststroke (1:17.63).
Senior Jack Fogarty took eighth in diving and finished 6th in the 100 backstroke (1:13.64).
Only six swimmers, all of them girls, are headed to the Sectional and State championships over the next two weeks. In a year of firsts, this is also the first time Lynnfield has not qualified a single boy or boy’s relay for either competition. An unusual circumstance considering how dominant the Pioneers were all season. For Boyd, it’s a perfect example of the make up of his team.
“We may not have anyone you can classify as ‘elite’, but one thing is for sure…every one of these kids can really swim,” said Boyd. “Championships aren’t won with individuals. We had the complete package – a truly championship caliber team. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”