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John Carroll swimmers enjoy season, despite its shortness

Members of the John Carrol girls swim team prepare to enter the pool during a relay in Wednesday night's meet.
Members of the John Carrol girls swim team prepare to enter the pool during a relay in Wednesday night's meet. (Randy McRoberts)

The season was short, but it was a season to remember for the small John Carroll swim team.

The team of 12 girls and four boys battled St. Vincent Pallotti Wednesday night in the pool at Bel Air Athletic Club where wins were important, but there was more.

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This, just a second meet for the team, was the last. The girls are scheduled to swim again late next week, but as a full team, this was it.

“I am super pumped to be out here, I haven’t coached swimming in over a year,” Patriots head coach Jess Marx said. “The first meet we had last week, it was like, it was like a whole new world, what was lost was now back to us and I know the kids are super excited about it, just to be back on the pool deck.”

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Marx is a first year coach and despite the short season, she is thrilled to be having a season at all. “I’m so happy that we were able to get these five weeks and we were able to get the three meets, cause there was a point and time, I‘m sure everyone felt the same way, that it wouldn’t happen,” Marx said. “And so it did and it’s awesome. I’m so excited to be out here.”

And she wasn’t the only one.

Lukas Datolli, a senior boys swimmer, said, “I’m really happy I got the chance to, I’ve got to give coach Jess the credit, because switching coaches and being in the middle of COVID, it was really hard to get stuff together. She managed to get these two meets and do well with practices, so I’m happy we got the chance.”

Datolli, who has applied to the U. S. Naval Academy, also runs track, which he says he hopes to at Navy. In the pool though, Datolli closed out his career with a win. He was fasted in the 50 freestyle race, coming from behind to win by a slim margin.

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“I happy that I was able to go out and really impress myself and the team, that’s one of the faster times I’ve done and I’m really impressed with myself.”

The win was just one-of-two for the Patriots boys. Ryan Fabriziani won the 100 backstroke event as well, but the Patriots fell, 82-32.

The two, along with Ryan Vest and Chris Datolli, were second in the 200 and 400 boys free relays. Vest was also a close second in the 100 free and Fabriziani was second in the 200 free.

The John Carroll 2021 swim team closed out its coed team season last Wednesday night.
The John Carroll 2021 swim team closed out its coed team season last Wednesday night. (Randy McRoberts)

The girls team fared much better, winning five events en route to a 78-68 win.

The Patriots opened the meet with a win in the 200 Individual Medley relay. Mackenzie Hopkins, Delaney Hopkins, Sarah Nelson and Tori Novak teamed up for the win. The foursome also won the final race of the night, the 400 girls free relay.

Mackenzie Hopkins and Nelson came right back to give the Patriots a 1-2 finish in the 200 free heat. “In the IM, this is the same relay team we’ve had from last year and it’s great that we all get to swim together, especially since the two are seniors, so it’s just a lot of fun,” Mackenzie Hopkins said. “We all know each other, we swam together before, so it’s a lot of fun to get to race together and have the opportunity with COVID.”

Nelson, one of the seniors, said, “It’s nice to just get together with my friends. Obviously, this is not the senior year I dreamed of, but were definitely making the best of the situation and the fact that we can still come together as a team and compete, is really a nice opportunity.”

Nelson, who swims club at BAAC, plans to swim in college, but she is not committed yet. Nelson does plan to study Biology with a Chemistry major or minor on a Pre-Med track.

The other senior, Delaney Hopkins, was an easy winner in the 500 free. “I’m really happy with how we swam tonight, it’s definitely a major improvement from year’s past and seeing everybody really get energetic on the blocks, cheering for each other and at the end of the lanes jumping up and down,” she said. “That’s really what high school swimming is about, it’s not whether the team wins or not, or whether you win your personal event, but it’s really just an atmosphere to support each other and seeing everyone swim a lot of personal bests, that’s all you could wish for in a high school team.”

Delaney Hopkins is headed to Wesleyan University, a D-3 school in Middletown, Conn. Hopkins will swim and hopes to study Neuroscience and Biology.

“I’m ecstatic, this is the closest things have felt to normal in a while,” Hopkins said. “At the beginning of Fall, when they canceled sports at John Carroll, I was so worried, I’m like, what does this mean for swim?”

Fortunately, there was something. “To even just have a senior season, no matter how short it is, I’m so happy about it. I would not give up this season, no matter how short, for anything.”

Other highlights for the girls were Novak winning the 200 IM, while Nelson was second in the 100 back and 200 free heats. Jenna Peters added a second in the 50 free.

While this was a short season for first year coach Marx, it gives hope to the future.

“I think that one thing that I’m trying to build is a sense of a team. We haven’t all been on a team in a year, for some of them,” Marx said. “So, I think if there’s one thing that we’ve built over the last two or three weeks, is a sense of team. Everyone of these kids has worked hard from the moment they got in the pool and I expect that to continue the next two-or three weeks. Hopefully we will continue that on into next year.”

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