The highlight of the short course swim season for the Montclair YMCA Dolphins Swim Team is the SunKissed Invitational Junior/Senior Swimming Championships of the USA, which is held each Spring at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. For Dolphin swimmers, achieving the necessary qualifying times for the meet and attending for the first time is a rite of passage as they grow into stronger and faster swimmers. For seniors, the parade of athletes and senior recognition ceremony is another rite as they prepare to head off to college. The 2017 meet was held from March 31 – April 2. 58 Dolphins swimmers were among the 600 swimmers from 18 teams who competed in the four-day meet. Head Coach Paulo Madeira, Head Age-Group Coach Matt Garifo, and Coaches Megan Felber and Lesly Mendoza were also in attendance.
Points were awarded for the top 16 places. 24 Dolphins swimmers contributed to the point total in individual events, compared to 19 in 2016. As a team, the Y placed 4th, up from 7th in 2016, with an increase of nearly 400 pts. year over year.
Mizell McEachin (13) of Bloomfield took first place in the 13&U 50 free with a time of 23.29 seconds. He also finished in the top 10 in his 5 other individual events.
Swimmers earning points in the finals were Edward Madrigal (17) of Belleville; Rosslyn Cueva (13) and McEachin of Bloomfield; Juliet Lombardi (13) of Cedar Grove; Chloe Deubner (18), Isabelle Deubner (13), Liam Hood (15), Connor Townson (13) and Enzo Wood (13) of Glen Ridge; Avery Best (14), Gaea Caro (13), Natalie Dripchak (11), Justin Ellis (16), Elizabeth Habjan (12), Kai Michaud (18), Leo Powers (12), Sumner Smith (13) and Thatcher Smith (15) of Montclair; Cristian Remache (12) of Nutley; and Caleb Foung (13), Christina Gilio-Malabre (14) and Howard Zhuang (11) of West Orange.
In addition to McEachin, Caro, I. Deubner, Townson and Wood earned points in each of their six individual events.
The 13&U boys relay teams stood on the podium 4 times. The team of McEachin Townson, S. Smith and Wood took second place in the 200 and 400 medley relays. The team of McEachin, S. Smith, Wood and David Park (13) of Rutherford captured second place in the 200 free relay and McEachin, Townson, Wood and Killian Blitz (13) of Verona finished 3rd in the 400 free relay. The 13&U girls relay team of Caro, Habjan, I. Deubner and Dripchak earned a 4th place finish in the 200 medley relay.
Head Coach Paulo Madeira said, “We are so proud of the Dolphins swimmers who attended these two highly competitive meets, for the hard work they put in over the course of the short course season and their outstanding performances at these meets.