And they’re off! In the first major meet of the 2017-2018 season, nearly 130 athletes from the YMCA of Montclair Dolphins swim team competed in the recent 2017 Ocean County YMCA Great Turkey Invitational in Toms River, N.J.
The Dolphins were one of six YMCA teams from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware to participate in the meet, which spanned three days (Nov. 3-5) and included nearly 700 swimmers from age 9 to 18.
Many Dolphins turned in outstanding performances, with 46 swimmers producing 134 top 10 finishes. Some qualified for the year-end YMCA state championships. Others achieved personal bests in multiple events.
Twenty-three Dolphins finished in the top 5 in at least one event: Gaea Caro (14), Kyle Dripchak (9), Melanie Dripchak (9), Natalie Dripchak (12), Lucas Foung (10), Ela Habjan (12), Mizell McEachin (14), Eric Pittman (12), Diego Pla-Silsby (12), Leo Powers (13), Kal Sobier (12), Millie Steffe (15), of Montclair; Kazuri Lateef (11), Femi Oshodi (10), Howard Zhuang (11), of West Orange; Aly Breikaa (11), Tate Faherty (10), Ryan LoCicero (11), of Bloomfield; Connor Townson (13), Enzo Wood (13), of Glen Ridge; Ed Madrigal (17) of Belleville; Nead Kojic (12) of Nutley; and Killian Blitz (14) of Verona.
Natalie Dripchak, Melanie Dripchak, and Zhuang captured two events each, while Breikaa, Caro, Habjan, Lateef, Pittman and Pla-Silsby also won.
Overall, the boys’ 11-12 age group performed particularly well, dominating the 100 breaststroke (taking 5 of the top 7 spots) and the 100 freestyle (4 of the top 6). The foursome of Pla-Silsby, Zhuang, Pittman, and Breikaa took 2nd in the 200 medley relay, and their teammates Sobier, Kojic, LoCicero, and Jasper Schnieders-Smith of Montclair, finished 3rd. In the 200 freestyle relay, the team of Pittman, Schnieders-Smith, Zhuang, and Breikaa took 2nd.
“The Great Turkey gives swimmers of all levels a chance to compete in a big regional meet early in the season,” said Paulo Madeira, head coach of the Dolphins. “We are very proud of the great swimming and determination we saw from our swimmers.”
The YMCA of Montclair Dolphins swim team offers a year-round opportunity for competitive swimming in both YMCA and USA Swimming competitions as well as seasonal instructional clinics for aspiring competitive athletes. The team is comprised of girls and boys from age 6 through high school. More than 200 athletes train with the team each year. They compete at all levels, based on their skill set.
For more information about the Montclair YMCA Dolphins swim team, contact head coach Madeira at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973-744-3400.
— Courtesy YMCA of Montclair swim parents board