In their final two dual meets of the season, the Verona Waves swim team came on stronger than ever in their match-ups against the Berkeley Heights and Madison squads. Though they fell to a tough Madison team, the Waves first pulled off an incredible four-point victory against Berkeley Heights, a team that had soundly defeated Verona only a few weeks earlier.
Assistant Coach Mike Dillane explained that “it was a rough score the first time around and to turn it around and not only walk away with a victory but a victory of four points was really awesome because it showed not only how much the kids have improved but towards the end of the meet they were all fighting for every yard and every point and cheering each other along the way.”
The coach continued to express how he was very happy to finish the season with a 3-5 record as he said his every one of his swimmers demonstrated improvement in the water. He noted, however, that the biggest difference in his team from the first week of practice to the last was their sportsmanship.
“The kids really came together as a team and that was the biggest thing,” Dillane said. “By the last meet they were really supporting each other and cheering for each other. You could really see the difference in the team atmosphere and how supportive everyone was of each other.”
Verona carried this team unity into their Divisional Meet on Monday, July 25 at the Livingston pool. Verona is a part of the second division in the North Jersey Summer Swim League. Each division hosts a divisional meet at which the swimmers of all five teams race in the hopes of qualifying for the Meet of Champions, which features the 16 fastest swimmers for each age group and event out of the 20 teams that make up all four divisions.
This year, the Verona squad had over 20 of their swimmers qualify to race at the league’s Meet of Champions, a meet that features some of the fastest swimmers in North Jersey. Though Dillane said that the atmosphere at the divisional meet is more intense and serious, he said that the Verona swimmers “didn’t skip a beat. They did fantastic and that was awesome for all the coaches to see.”
He also mentioned that what he was most impressed with was not the overall outcome of the races but rather the overall team attitude. “At Divisionals they rope off the pool so kids can’t fool around… but luckily we were seated at the other end of the pool and our kids were leaning over the rope cheering for each other the entire meet… even though they were restricted by a piece of tape they didn’t let that stop them, and that was just really great to see.”
At the Meet of Champions, the Waves not only had a record number of swimmers qualify but they also brought home an impressive amount of hardware. Nolan O’Toole, Grace Endersby, and Mike Dillane all took home top honors. O’Toole won the 8 and Under boys 25-meter Freestyle, Endersby took the 15 and Over girls 50-meter Breaststroke, and Dillane was victorious in the 15 and Over boys 50-meter butterfly.
The rest of the Waves championship team was comprised of: Sophie Beaubouef, Kelly Barrow, Julia Komninos, Emma Sheehan, Will Sheehan, Emma Dillane, Matt Dillane, Kate Carlson, Mia Forysiak, Anna Hoogterp, Peter Hoogterp, Kelly Nulty, Jenna Gabbe, Anthony Giuliano, Nick Giuliano, Olivia Fisher, Matt McMahon, Ryan McMahon, Antonio Belotta, Daniel Frenklakh, Evan Bannon, Cole Smith, Collin Welsh, Jordan Shaffer, Jess Theobald, Jenna McGrath, Kieran Quinn, Andrew Hunt, and Ashley Duhaney.
Photos courtesy Donna Giuliano.