For Morgan Sawin, the PASDA (Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association) championship meet was a key litmus test for her Nassau Swim Club Lemmings team.
“I sent an e-mail to the parents putting an emphasis on this meet,” said Nassau head coach Sawin, a former Boston University swimming star who hails from nearby Bridgewater.
“I told them it was a chance for swimmers to showcase how much they have improved this summer.”
The Nassau swimmers seized that opportunity with aplomb in the meet held at the Flemington-Raritan pool, taking second in the Division 2 standings at the PASDA meet, piling up 1,855.50 points, trailing only champion Ben Franklin with 3,315.
“We definitely did really well, better than expected,” said Sawin. “We had a good turnout. On paper, we were the third place team in league and we ended up second in the championships.”
On the boys’ side, Daniel Baytin did a really good job, taking first in the 8-and-under 25-meter freestyle, 25 breaststroke, and 100 individual medley. He also helped Nassau take first in the 100 medley relay.
“Daniel Baytin is very tall and he trains all year round,” said Sawin. “We get a lot of kids who are summer specific; they play other sports and just swim in the summer. He is a swimmer. It is pretty rare to find an 8-year-old who has already picked out his sport.”
The trio of Javier Lee, Toby Richmond, and Pierre Soumeillant combined with Baytin to help Nassau dominate the 8U age group. “Lee and Richmond were good, we put together a great relay,” said Sawin, whose 8Us also won the 100 free relay with Coll Wight joining Lee, Richmond, and Soumeillant.
“The fourth guy, Pierre Soumeillant, was new and flailing at the beginning and he was on the top relay by the end of the season. It was great to see that improvement.”
The Lemmings got great efforts from some of its other boy swimmers as Simon Sheppard won the 10U 25 free and 25 back while Andrew Koehler was fourth in the 10U 25 back, Lorne Wight was third in the 10U 25 breast and 100 IM and fourth in the 25 breast, Henry DeCheser won the 12U 50 butterfly and took fifth in the 50 free, and Calvin Ristad took second in the 12U 50 breast and fourth in the 50 free.
“Simon is pretty strong, he trains with the older group as does Andrew Koehler; they are ahead of things with their age group,” added Sawin.
“Henry was not expecting to win so that was a nice surprise for him. We had a new kid from England, Lorne Wight who was our go-to breaststroker. He decided he was going to do the IM and he did a good job with that.”
Among the younger Nassau girl swimmers, Sabine Ristad had a nice meet, winning the 8U 25 fly, taking second in the 25 free, and third in the 25 breast.
“Ristad can pretty much do everything,” asserted Sawin. “She is a swimmer, she is not tall but she is built for it, she is strong. She has got it, she has great technique for a 7-year-old.”
In the 10U group, Emma Hopkins took second in the 25 free and fifth in the 25 free with Kimi Wei placing third in the 100 IM and fourth in the 25 back and Sophia Burton was the fourth-place finisher in the 25 breast. Nassau took second in both the 100 free relay and 100 medley relay.
“Hopkins, Wei and Burton were our three strong swimmers in the 8-9 group,” said Sawin.
Isabelle Monaghan put in a strong performance in the 12U division, winning the 50 back and taking second in the 100 IM.
“Isabelle is always up there; she is a full-time swimmer,” said Sawin, noting that her older sister, Sophia Monaghan, was a star swimmer for Nassau who recently helped Stanford win the NCAA women’s water polo title. “She is following in the footsteps of her sister.”
A sister act, Julia, Margaret, and Anna Hill, gave Nassau some depth. “The three Hill girls helped us,” said Sawin.
“They moved up here last year from Virginia. Margaret is 11 but she acts like she is 18, she is very mature. Anna Hill swam up at the championships because we needed to fill in the lineup.”
As for the team’s older girls, Rachel Adlai-Gail took second in both the 14U 25 fly and 100 IM with Maddy Troilo winning the 100 IM and placing second in the 50 free. Becca Adlai-Gail was third in both the 18U 50 fly and 100 IM while Emily Klockenbrink took fifth in the 18U 50 back.
“The Adlai-Gail girls did well for us,” said Sawin. “Klockenbrink was a swimmer and a coach. She would coach 1 ½ hours and swim 1 ½ hours, She was juggling a lot, she was one of the busiest people on the team.”
Sawin liked the way the team saved its best for last. “I was pretty happy; we lost the first two meets and it was really, really nice that we got to win the last two and that they were at home,” said Sawin, who has previously coached at BU and other summer programs and works as a math teacher at Montgomery High. “We are building a team; we really need the older kids to stay.”
Having taken the helm of the program halfway through the 2013 season, Sawin enjoyed guiding the Lemmings all summer long this year.
“It was nice to start from the beginning and get to know how much the kids got better,” said Sawin.
“It was hard to tell last year when I came in the middle. There is a computer program that I put all the times into and see how much improvement there was. Some of the 8-year olds improved 20 seconds in the 25 free. It was fun to see the 5- and 6-year olds making big, big jumps.”
It was fun for Sawin to see the Lemmings display their customary camaraderie from the start. “I was shocked at the first meet, we started relays and the whole team was at the end of the pool doing an organized cheer,” said Sawin.
“I asked my assistant if she organized that and she said no, it came from the kids. There was a lot of team spirit.”