Editor's note: A quote in a previous version of this article incorrectly said that Severn junior Aliza Monaldo has committed to swim at a university. Monaldo has not committed at this point.
As Severn School and Archbishop Spalding High School enter their final lap of the high school swim season, they’ve had standout performances in the competitive boys Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association league and the girls Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland conference.
Severn’s head swimming coach, Erin Domenech, is pleased with many of her swimmers getting numerous first-place performances in their meets as well as the boys team going undefeated in the MIAA B conference.
The boys team has been led by senior Ben Keith with 19 first-place finishes, Court Barrett with 18, Hayden Gargagliano with 15 and Harlan Erskine with 14.
On the girls side, Aliza Monaldo has swam to eight first-place finishes. Senior co-captain Erin Hooper has seven, Kenzie Getz clocked in seven and senior co-captain Caroline DiPaola has five so far.
“Many of our swimmers play other sports as they use swimming as part of their cross training for other sports,” Domenech said.
Anna Erskine was part of the school’s cross country championship team, and Hooper and DiPaola play field hockey and lacrosse. Hooper will play lacrosse at Notre Dame, near South Bend, Indiana.
Severn is fortunate to have their training site across the street from their Evergreen Road campus. They practice three times a week either before or after school at the Severna Park Community Center. The other days, they cross train by either running on the B&A Trail or lifting weights at the school.
“I prefer the morning practice at 6:30am as you feel more energetic during the day,” Hooper said. “The pool is cold at first, but you get used to it after a few laps.”
As the senior swimmers get ready for the conference championship meets, they are reflective about their time at Severn and relish being part of such a tight-knit school.
“I’ve been at Severn since the sixth grade, and I’ve made so many great friendships with other students and coaches,” Keith said. “We have really small classes and if you need any additional help, teachers and coaches are always willing to take the time.”
Hooper will miss the camaraderie of her teammates and getting to know those athletes’ families through team dinners and other team events.
“With such a small school, we see each other in school and practice as most of us play multiple sports,” Hooper said.
At Spalding, the swim teams have shown steady improvement throughout the winter. The girls team finished sixth in the National Catholic School Championships in January.
The Spalding swimmers also broke a school record for the 200-yard medley relay. The four swimmers included Ashley Connor (backstroke), Maggie Jaeger (breaststroke), Olivia Polucha (butterfly) and Natalie Lomonosov (freestyle). Only Polucha is a senior, and she will swim at Stony Brook University next year.
“We have a very young team with a bright future,” said head girls swimming coach Ashley Blaszczyk. "We had some very close meets this year with McDonogh and Notre Dame Prep.”
The girls team practices four days a week at the Y in Pasadena.
“We have many freshmen and sophomores on our team, and they live in Prince George’s and Howard counties,” Blaszczyk said. “They give up a lot of their days and weekends to swim and compete in this conference.”
The Spalding boys team finished 15th overall in the National Catholic Tournament, which had teams from throughout the East Coast, Ohio and Florida.
“We have 19 swimmers on our varsity and 13 on the JV,” said head boys swimming coach Chip Helferstay, who is a graduate of Spalding. “This is the first time we’ve had a JV, so our future looks promising.”
Some of Spalding’s top swimmers are junior Graham Tower and sophomores Bill Connor and Lawson Cate.