The O’Connell swim/dive programs – both the boys and the girls – once again enjoyed successful campaigns in the pool. Especially so in diving!
From the beginning, it was apparent that the boys and girls teams would have to take vastly different routes if they were to enjoy triumphant seasons. On the one hand, the boys, lacking in numbers and depth, would have to rely on their heavy hitters to score most of the team’s points, while, on the other, the girls would have to put it together with a combination of strong individual performances accompanied by their depth in most events.
And, they did!
Those heavy hitters for the boys were seniors Christian Tiernan (pictured left) and Ian Stuver, junior Chris Outlaw, and sophomores Andrew DiBenedetto and Sean Bergmann.
Tiernan, a four-year varsity swimmer and team captain, specializes in sprint freestyle and butterfly. He placed third in the 50 free and eighth in the 100 free at the Virginia Independent Schools State Championship Meet in Manassas. Stuver excels in breaststroke and individual medley. A three-year varsity standout, Ian finished ninth in the 100 breast. Three-year varsity standout Outlaw is at his best in sprint freestyle events. He came up big in States, placing second in the 50 free and ninth in the 100 free.
DiBenedetto, easily one of the team’s most improved swimmers this winter, swims backstroke and freestyle. Andrew placed 13th at States in the 100 backstroke. Also in just his second year, Bergmann has been a stabilizing force and has displayed tremendous versatility over the course of the campaign – qualifying for States in two events.
The boys medley relay team of DiBenedetto, Stuver, Tiernan and Outlaw qualified as All-American with their time, and Outlaw also broke the 50 free school record with a time of 21.23 in his second-place finish at States.
One of the boys’ strongest events this winter was the diving competition. Just as he has been each and every year, Jack Gigliotti (pictured left) was once again outstanding – winning the state championship and, in doing so, breaking the oldest school record on the board (set in 1988). His 1 meter diving score was 424.05. Jack teamed with Danny Metzmaier (12th at States), Kynan Franke and Dominc Bernero to give the boys an excellent dive contention. Besides Gigliotti being the 2014 State Champion, the AquaKnights diving coach, Kelly Hunter, was named the Virginia State Dive Coach of the Year.
The girls swimmers were led by a pair of senior standouts, Katie Kinsella and Paige Scallion (pictured right), junior Sarah Cahill (pictured below), and freshmen Sydney Catron and Isabell Baltimore.
Kinsella, the team captain, has had an awesome career at O’Connell – starring in freestyle and butterfly events. Scallion was also a sprint freestyler who really stepped up big-time in relay competition.
Cahill is an awesome talent, specializing in breaststroke events. More often than not, dominating in the 100 breaststroke, her specialty...so much so, that the sophomore sensation broke the DJO team record in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:05.40, a record that had stood for 15 years.Sarah had a second-place finish at States.
Only a freshman, Catron became one of the team’s strongest swimmers in multiple events over the course of the season. Sydney finished sixth in the 200 free and sixth in the 500 free at States. Fellow freshman Baltimore became the AquaKnights’ sprint freestyle extraordinaire – placing sixth at States in the 50 free.
Like the boys, the girls diving team was very strong with Kelly sisters – Alayna and Maddie – starring off the board along with teammate Susie Fernandez. All three had strong showings at States, with Alayna placing third and Maddie earning a 13th place finish off the platform. Alayna, a senior, was the runner-up at States last year in the diving competition.
Highlights of the 2013-14 season included the boys placing third at the WMPSSDL championships behind perennial powers Gonzaga and Georgetown Prep and the girls showing plenty of promise and potential for the future with their young contingent of talent.
See more photos from the State championships in the Arlington Catholic Herald.
This is Tommy Orndorff and that was The Week That Was.