YMCA of Montclair Dolphins End Successful Season At SunKissed Invitational

Two swimmers captured titles, two team records were broken, and one more swimmer qualified for the national championships, as the YMCA of Montclair Dolphins swim team punctuated a highly successful season at the recent SunKissed Invitational Junior/Senior Swimming Championships of the USA in Charlotte, N.C.

Four graduating seniors (from left to right: Jordan Caro, Lenny Brown, Julian Charles, and Edward Madrigal. Photo: Amelia Martinez.

The meet draws hundreds of swimmers from more than a dozen teams from all over the country, and represents the highlight of the short-course season for the Dolphins who are able to meet the tough qualifying times. This year, 60 Dolphin swimmers participated in the meet, held at the Mecklenburg County Aquatics Center on April 5 to 8, accompanied by a dozens of parents and coaches.

Overall, the boys team finished in second — their highest in many years — while the girls performed strongly as well, coming in 7th.

Kyle Dripchak, freestyle. Photo: Amelia Martinez

Two Dolphins were crowned as champions: Ela Habjan (13) of Montclair in the 100 backstroke, and Natalie Dripchak (12) of Montclair in the 200 breaststroke. Natalie’s brother, Kyle (10), broke the team record in the 200 backstroke, dropping an eye-popping 17 seconds from his previous best. And a foursome of 14-year-olds — Connor Townson and Enzo Wood of Glen Ridge, and Sumner Smith and Mizell McEachin of Montclair — broke the team’s record in the 400 medley relay.

Liam Hood, butterfly. Photo: Amelia Martinez.

Two Dolphins also qualified for the YMCA National Championships: Liam Hood (16) of Glen Ridge in the 200 backstroke, and Edward Madrigal (18) of Belleville in the 100 backstroke. Madrigal had already qualified in the 100 and 200 butterfly.

In other individual highlights, Habjan took 2nd in the 500 freestyle and 200 backstroke, and 3rd in the 200 freestyle and 50 freestyle. Leo Powers (13) of Montclair was the runner-up in the 200 breaststroke, and came in third in the 200 backstroke and 100 backstroke. And Eric Pitman (13) of Montclair came in third in the 500 freestyle.

The meet was also memorable for the high school seniors who made the trip, and were honored during a ceremony. This year, the Dolphins were represented by Madrigal, Lenny Brown (17) of Montclair, Jordan Caro (18) of Montclair, and Julian Charles (17) of West Orange.

“Fabulous,” exulted Paulo Madeira, head coach of the Dolphins team. “Many best times and a great team-bonding experience.”

The team is now transitioning to the summer long course season, in which the athletes will compete in 50-meter, Olympic-sized pools.

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 pmadeira@montclairymca.org or 973-744-3400.

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