February 21, 2024

PHS Boys’ Swimming Falls to Chatham in Sectional Final, Competing Hard to the End as it Finishes with a 13-1 Record

FAST FINISH: Princeton High boys’ swimmer David Xu displays his breaststroke form in a recent race. Last week, junior star Xu placed first in both the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 backstroke as second-seeded PHS fell 96-74 to top-seeded Chatham in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) North 2 Group B sectional final. The defeat left the Tigers with a 13-1 final record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden 

As the second-seeded Princeton High boys’ swimming team faced top-seeded Chatham in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) North 2 Group B sectional final last Wednesday, it was round three in state tournament action between the powerhouses.

With PHS having lost to Chatham in the Public B state final in 2022 and in the sectional final last winter for its only two defeats in the last two seasons, the Tigers realized that they faced an uphill battle in the showdown of undefeated squads.

“With swimming, the times are what they are, you know what you are stacked up against,” said PHS head coach Carly (Misiewicz) Fackler. “We went into it with a really positive mindset, saying, ‘Hey, we are going to win as many things as we can. We are going to try to beat the people around us and just focus on our race.’ At the end of the day, all you can control is what you can do in the pool.”

While PHS ended up losing 96-74 to the Cougars, Fackler loved the way her swimmers competed as they finished the season with a 13-1 record.

“We swam as fast as we possibly could, we left it all in the pool,” said Fackler, who got wins from David Xu in both the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 backstroke with David Brophy prevailing in the 50 freestyle and Daniel Guo taking first in the 100 free. “What I told them is that you have to swim every single race like it is your last. You never know what else is guaranteed and if there is another opportunity or not. I think we really raced with true heart, determination, and passion. We really represented Princeton High School and we were there for each other from start to finish. We went 1-3 in the 400 free relay, so that was a good way to end the meet.”

The 1-3 finish of the Xu twins, juniors David and Jaiden, in the 200 IM exemplified heart and determination displayed by the Tigers.

“I was really happy with 200 IM with David and Jaiden,” said Fackler. “With David and Jack Bingham from Chatham, it was back and forth. It was one of the best races of the day. David had him, then Jack caught him in breaststroke and then David just finished in the freestyle. David and Jaiden are two very phenomenal swimmers.”

Fackler was happy with what her boys’ team accomplished this winter as it won its third straight county title in addition to its sparkling record.

“Something I said to the guys when we got back on the bus was that 13-1 is nothing to turn your nose up at,” said Fackler. “At the end of the day, our guys did their job. They didn’t just hang their heads low and walk around mopey. It was, ‘We are going to make this a tough meet for them, we are going to make them work for it and make them earn it and not hand over the win.’ I could not be more proud of them. So many teams are at home watching results online, wishing that they could be here in this moment.”

With a core of juniors including Matias Da Costa, Jaden Jung, Tyler Cenci, and Mark Lackner along with Brophy, Guo, and the Xu twins, Fackler sees some good results ahead for her boys’ squad.

“Chatham has got our number, but our time will come,” said Fackler, noting that the team will miss senior stalwarts Henry Xu, Zach Guan, and Alex Aprikian next year.

“What I always tell them is that every race is an opportunity. Whether you win, whether you lose, whether you add time, whether you drop, it is an opportunity to race and do the best that you are physically capable of doing in that moment, and they did.”