PHS Boys’ Swimming Wins 2nd Straight County Title as Baytin Leads the Way with Record-Breaking Effort
DAN THE MAN: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Daniel Baytin flies through the breaststroke leg of the 200-meter medley last Saturday at the Mercer County Swimming Championships. Senior star Baytin placed first in both the 50-meter freestyle and the 100 breaststroke races to help PHS earn its second straight team title at the competition. Baytin, who was named the boys’ Most Valuable Swimmer, set a meet record in the breaststroke with his time of 1:03.84 in the preliminary round. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Carly Misiewicz sensed that her Princeton High boys’ swimming team was primed for a big performance at the Mercer County Swimming Championships when it met on Friday before the preliminary round of the competition.
“They were really fired up and focused for the prelims; we had our team lunch and our meeting beforehand and I feel like the energy was exactly where it needed to be,” said PHS head coach Misiewicz, whose boys’ squad was going for its second straight county title. “I see that as a fine line of cocky and confidence. Going off the regular season record (12-0), there are a lot of expectations and a lot of hopes but you never know. Anything could happen at the county meet. It is a very different situation.”
After a superb performance in the prelims Friday evening, the Tigers wasted no time dominating on Saturday at the WW/P-North pool, winning three of the first four events.
PHS went on to roll to its second straight county crown, scoring 312 points to take first with Notre Dame scoring 171 in taking second.
Saving his best for last, senior standout Daniel Baytin was named the boys’ Most Valuable Swimmer at the meet, placing first in both the 50-meter freestyle and 100 breaststroke. He set a meet record in the breaststroke with his time of 1:03.84 in the preliminary round.
“I was just really excited for Dan, it is something he really worked for; I think he felt a little disappointed that he didn’t get it last year,” said Misiewicz, referring to the MVS honor. “He annihilated the old county record in the breaststroke by almost two seconds in prelims. His time in finals (1:05.28) would have actually broken the record as well. He also had a great 50 free.”
In addition to piling up points for the Tigers, Baytin has had a great influence on his teammates over the years.
“Daniel is such an incredibly talented athlete,” said Misiewicz. “It has been great just being able to watch him grow and mature and develop over the last four years, not only as an athlete but as a person. He really, really loves Princeton High School swimming. Someone who is as talented as him could easily just make it, ‘OK, I just want to pad my resume.’ He truly, truly loves the high school team and the kids love him. Everybody on the team looks up to him as a motivator.”
PHS got some other great swims last Saturday as sophomore David Xu won the 200 individual medley and took second in the 100 butterfly while his twin, Jaiden, placed second in the 200 IM. Sophomore David Brophy took second in the 200 free, sophomore Daniel Guo took second in the 100 free and fourth in the 200 free, and senior Julian Velazquez placed fifth in the 200 free and sixth in 100 fly.
“David Xu did phenomenal as well, he wasn’t super thrilled with his prelim swims; he felt that he underperformed,” said Misiewicz. “To see his mentality change from one day to the next, he was so in the zone and so ready to go and to win the 200 IM and battle his twin brother. Jaiden had an awesome swim as well, he swam so well. David Brophy’s 200 free was something that stood out for sure, getting second place as a sophomore, and Daniel Guo took fourth. Julian, as a senior, always steps up, he got top six in both of his events.”
Misiewicz was not surprised to see her boys’ squad step up and earn the title repeat, given its special camaraderie.
“With this group of kids, there is something special — they really mesh so well with each other,” said Misiewicz. “It is so easy to be competitive with each other when you are on club and the different teams that you swim for. You want to get this time, you want that time, and it can be who wants to be on this relay, who wants to be on that relay. I changed relays from prelims to finals and I told the guys that too. I said listen depending on how we swim on Friday will determine who our relays will be because I will go with who the top 4 swimmers are. They all understood that.”
With PHS having fallen just short of a state title last winter, losing to Chatham in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Group B final, Misiewicz believes that the performance in the county meet has her boys primed for another big state run.
“It allowed us to truly showcase what we are capable of in a competitive fashion, being able to have that prelim/final situation,” said Misiewicz. “We had an undefeated regular season. That is great, that is awesome, but what else are we capable of? If everything stays the way it is over the next couple of days, we should have a good two weeks off before we have another meet. I think we need that little bit of a break. This sets up really well and gets us more excited and more fired up. We don’t want to come up short again, we don’t want anything like that.”