PHS Boys’ Swimming Competes Hard From Start to Finish But Gets Edged by Powerhouse Chatham in Sectional Final
FINAL LAP: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Julian Velazquez displays his butterfly form in a meet this winter. Last Friday, senior star Velazquez placed first in the 100-yard freestyle to provide a highlight as PHS fell 90-80 to Chatham in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) North Jersey 2, Group B sectional final. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 13-1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Last winter, the Princeton High boys’ swim team rolled to an undefeated regular season, winning the Mercer County championship meet and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Central Jersey, Group B sectional title on the way to facing powerhouse Chatham in the state final.
The Cougars proved to be a roadblock to a perfect campaign for PHS as they posted a 97-73 win over the Tigers.
This season, PHS went undefeated in regular season meets and won a
second straight county crown and found Chatham waiting for it last Friday night at the Raritan Bay YMCA in the NJSIAA North Jersey 2, Group B sectional final.
The Tigers were primed for the rematch with the Cougars, who brought a 12-0 record into the showdown.
“We knew what they had depth-wise and what were up against based on last year,” said PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz. “The mindset was we can do anything we set our minds to. If anything, it was let’s learn from last year and figure out how we can be better and improve and just bring it to them from start to finish. We went in with such a great mentality and such a good headspace. We were ready to compete.”
While PHS improved from last year, winning six of the 11 events in the meet, it wasn’t quite enough as the Tigers fell 90-80.
Although the result stung, Misiewicz had no qualms about the effort she got from her swimmers.
“We were tied at one point, we were down by two at multiple points,” said Misiewicz, whose team ended the winter with a 13-1 record. “We were very much in the entire meet to the point that we had Chatham on their heels and scared a little bit. We gave it our all — there is no way we could have swam any faster. We tweaked some things in the initial lineup that I sent out. It 100 percent worked out in our favor — it was exactly what we needed to do.”
Senior star Daniel Baytin swam very fast, taking first in both the 50-yard freestyle (21.83) and the 100 breaststroke (57.93).
“The times, they speak for themselves as to his speed and what he is capable of as an athlete. But as an individual, as a leader and a captain, the kids really look up to him,” said Misiewicz. “It has been great watching him over the last four years, the way he has grown as an athlete but also as just a teammate and a leader.”
Another senior, Julian Velazquez, came up big, winning the 100 free (50.35).
“His winning the 100 free was huge, and then for us to go 2-3-4 in the 200 free was another thing that got us right back into things, closer and closer,” said Misiewicz. “Julian is just such a great competitor. He brings so much insight into how he thinks we can match up against the other teams.”
Sophomore David Xu displayed his competitive fire, taking first in the 200 individual medley (1:56.95) and the 500 free (4:54.54).
“For David and Jaiden (his twin brother) to go 1-3 in the IM and then he and David Brophy to go 1-2 in the 500 was huge,” said Misiewicz.
The Tigers ended the meet on a high note, placing first in the 400 free relay in a time of 3:19.13.
“That truly speaks volumes to who they are as competitors and athletes to just not give up,” said Misiewicz. “We kept it competitive. We didn’t just let them walk all over us in the last relay.”
In the view of Misiewicz, a special team chemistry has fueled that competitive fire.
“You can truly and genuinely see how proud they are of each other and how much they work together as a team and how much they are
genuinely all friends with each other,” said Miseiwicz. “You can’t force friendships, especially with high school kids. To see them all hanging out on the weekends and really just all being there for each other from start to finish, it is all you could ever ask.”
Boasting a stellar group of sophomore stars, Misiewicz believes that her squad can be a force again next winter.
“You are excited to see the growth from last year and the growth that is going to happen in the next couple of months and who we may get in as well as freshmen,” said Misiewicz. “If last year taught us anything, it was stay hungry. Granted things didn’t end the way we would have wanted our season to end this year, but we closed the gap significantly from last year to this year. We swam our hearts out from start to finish, and we competed. Every single person on that team stepped up in the exact role that they needed to be.”