by Tom Utescher

Mount St. Joseph senior swimmers at their final home meet. Front row (from left): Anna Schultz, Alex Sullivan, Meg Weiser, Jackelyn Rockwood. Back row: Annie Clarke, Kat Matchett, Caiti Foley, Liz Maloney. Missing from photo: Kelly Leonard. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Due to snowstorms and subsequent icy conditions, the swim meet between Mount St. Joseph Academy and Gwynedd Mercy was postponed three times in recent weeks. Even though the league championships had already taken place, the Magic and the Monarchs were determined to fit in this dual meet, since both schools host “home” meets at the La Salle High School pool and the teams conduct a mutual “Senior Night” ceremony every year.

They were able to find an open date last Wednesday evening, when the Magic completed their regular season with a 61-31 victory. Mount St. Joe finished 3-1 within the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies and 7-2 overall, losing only to a pair of regional powers, Villa Maria Academy (in the AACA) and North Penn High School.

For Wednesday’s regular-season finale, the Magic changed their regular racing line-up in some areas. They built up a 28-6 lead before the paddling paused for the seniors’ farewell, and later on some Mounties swam on an exhibition basis, foregoing points in the team scoring.

It wasn’t all window dressing, though, as a few swimmers were still trying to achieve qualifying times to compete in the PIAA District 1 championships. Senior Caiti Foley was able to qualify in the 100-yard backstroke, where her winning time of 1:04.2 got her under the district limit of 1:05.3.

“It was the last chance I had to make Districts, and I was two-tenths (of a second) away,” she related. “I was dropping time all week in practice.”

Before she competed she talked with MSJ coach Janet Pudlinski, who told her “to remember to keep rotating my shoulders, because sometimes I forget to do that. I wanted to have strong turns and just use good technique overall. When I swam it was so great to have the girls at both ends of the pool cheering.”

It was already an emotional night for all the seniors as they gathered for their final home meet.

“We’ve spent the last four years together on the team, so we’ve all become great friends,” Foley said.

She added that on this year’s team, the tight-knit feeling extended to the younger swimmers as well.

”Last year I felt the freshmen weren’t as closely associated with the seniors,” she said, “but this year it felt more like one team. We’d hang out after school, and it wasn’t separated by class.”

After qualifying in the backstroke, Foley led off for the Mount’s victorious 400-yard freestyle relay team at the end of the meet, with classmates Anna Schultz, Meg Weiser, and Alex Sullivan filling out the foursome. In second were Gwynedd’s Jen Lehman, Rachel Tumolo, Katie Dunphy, and Emily Fesnak, and third place went to another Monarchs quartet: Meg Curley, Kathleen Cardell, Katie Cassidy, and Haley Cranch.

In the 200-yard medley relay, Mount St. Joe won with Dana Cinque, Dana Zielinski, Katie O’Connell, and Miranda Rafferty (all juniors) and second went to a team of Magic seniors consisting of Foley, Jackelyn Rockwood, Weiser, and Sullivan. Gwynedd placed third with Tumolo, Annalise Zaengle, Lea Zaengle, and Claire Lacon.

The Magic also went one-two in the 200-yard freestyle relay thanks to sophomore Sarah Wang, freshmen Alayna Kennedy and Caitlin McGrory, and Cinque and the runner-up team of freshman Jessie Dolan, junior Taylor Held, Zielinski, and Rafferty. Gwynedd’s Lehman, Dunphy, Fesnak, and Annalise Zaengle placed third in the same race.

Individual Results
50 Freestyle; winning time: 26.65
1. MSJ Miranda Rafferty
2. MSJ Dana Cinque
3. GMA Lea Zaengle

100 Freestyle; winning time: 58.25
1. MSJ Alex Sullivan
2. GMA Emily Fesnak
3. MSJ Sarah Wang

200 Freestyle; winning time: 2:06.88
1. MSJ Dana Zielinski
2. GMA Emily Fesnak
3. MSJ Josie Mustin

500 Freestyle; winning time: 5:51.32
1. MSJ Lexi Meister
2. GMA Meg Curley
3. MSJ Josie Mustin

100 Backstroke; winning time: 1:04.20
1. MSJ Caiti Foley
2. MSJ Brynn McGovern
3. GMA Rachel Tumolo

100 Breaststroke; winning time: 1:15.60
1. GMA Annalise Zaengle
2. MSJ Christina Formica
3. GMA Christina Giuliani

100 Butterfly; winning time: 1:06.25
1. MSJ Katie O’Connell
2. MSJ Jessie Dolan
3. GMA Lea Zaengle

200 Individual Medley; winning time: 2:24.25
1. MSJ Christina Formica
2. MSJ Meg Weiser
3. GMA Annalise Zaengle