January 12, 2022

Passing Rivalry Tests with Aplomb in Moving to 8-0, PHS Boys’ Swimmers Top Notre Dame, WW/P-South

FREE AND CLEAR: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Julian Velazquez powers to victory in a 200 freestyle race this season. Last week, junior standout Velazquez helped PHS defeat Notre Dame 115-55 on January 4 and then post a 111-69 win over WW/P-S last Thursday. The Tigers have won 20 straight dual meets since losing in the Central Jersey Group B sectional final in 2020. PHS, now 8-0, hosts Trenton on January 13 and Nottingham on January 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was rivalry week for the Princeton High boys’ swimming team as it faced two of its historically toughest foes, Notre Dame and WW/P-South, in a three-day period.

Displaying its depth and talent, PHS passed both tests with flying colors, routing Notre Dame 115-55 on January 4 and then rolling to an impressive 111-69 win over WW/P-S last Thursday as it improved to 8-0.

Tiger sophomore star Alvin Tien and his teammates were fired up for the big week.

“We were very anxious against Notre Dame because they were known for being really good,” said Tien.

“When we faced them, everybody put in all their effort to push through and win. It was the same thing with South. These are the hardest meets and our whole team put in the effort and beat them.”

Against South, Tien took first in the 50 freestyle in 23.68 and the 100 backstroke in 1:00.00.

“It goes quickly, I felt I could have done better,” said Tien in assessing the 50 free race.

“I ended up getting first, which I am happy with. In the 100 back, I went right on one. I was hoping for under one minute but it is all right. There is always next meet.”

Being able to compete in person this winter as opposed to the virtual meets last season has helped Tien lower his times.

“With freshman year being all online, I feel like it is a big change to be in person,” said Tien. “It helps everyone to have other teams and people you know to race against.”

In addition to Tien, other victors for PHS against WW/P-South included Dan Baytin in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke and Julian Velazquez in the 100 free.

“I just feel like the team has improved,” said Tien, reflecting on the win over WW/P-S. “We keep getting better, everybody on the team. They just know what to do.”

PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz believes her boys’ team is headed in the right direction.

“Coming in today, people were saying it is a battle of the unbeatens,” said Misiewicz, whose boys’ squad extended its dual-match winning streak to 20, having not lost since falling in the Central Jersey Group B sectional final in 2020.

“We were No. 12 in the states and they were 14. You know what’s online, but you never actually know until you actually get to the meet. I think we are in a really good spot right now, especially to be doing some of the times we are doing after Christmas break training and all of that stuff.”

Tien is certainly in a good spot. “Alvin has definitely has made a lot of progress; he is not doing club any more so he is coming to high school practice,” said Misiewicz, noting that Tien also competes in crew.

“His height is huge, he is 6’4. We have been working on different techniques and things to fix the 50 and or to fix his backstroke and just make improvements even from Tuesday to today. This was the first time he was under 24 in the 50 free, which was awesome, and he got 1:00.00 in the back. I wanted to see him get under a minute. He always comes to practice with a positive attitude. He is always upbeat and just a really great kid to be around.”

Junior stars Velazquez and Baytin have been giving PHS some great work.

“Julian swam two different events for us today, the 100 free and 100 back; he has done the 100 free a couple of times but he hadn’t done the 100 back this year for us,” said Misiewicz.

“Dan is untouchable in the breaststroke, right off the start too. He is phenomenal and tremendous. I am really grateful to have him be a part of this team too.”

Misiewicz is also grateful to have some talented younger swimmers stepping up.

“We have a really solid core group of guys that are freshmen and sophomores,” said Misiewicz.

“Daniel Guo, David and Jaiden Xu are freshmen and Zach Guan is a sophomore.”

PHS is looking forward to the Mercer County championship meet, which is slated for January 27-29 at WW/P-North

“I am excited; there is Pennington, you never really know what they are going to bring to the table,” said Misiewicz, whose boys’ team will be looking for its first county crown since 2014.

“I think we are in a really good spot as a team, as a whole right now. We are swimming consistently fast. We have got depth this year which is huge. I know the guys are excited too.”