PHILADELPHIA – Two days – two medals.
Though he did not take first place in the 100 breast stroke at the District 1-AAA swim championships held Friday afternoon, March 3 at LaSalle University’s Kirk Pool, Pennsbury senior Connor Doyle was quite content. Why shouldn’t he have been?
A day after capturing a District 1 gold medal in the 200 IM, Doyle finished a split second later than Hatboro-Horsham’s Andy Thomas (56.97), touching back in the 100 breast in 57.48.
“I WAS going for gold in the 100 breast but I am totally thrilled with the time I had,” said Doyle, who is committed to Virginia Tech. “I’m not tapered or shaved right now so going a 57 is exactly where I should be.
“I wasn’t expecting anything more.”
On day one of districts, Doyle, outpaced North Penn’s Sean Faikish, winning by a split-second in the 200 IM when he touched back in 1:50.83. The Knights’ swimmer turned in a time of 1:50.91.
“The race – how it turned out – made it that much sweeter,” said Doyle. “It just shows all the hard work pays off. All the race finishes you do at practice, all the turns – you need that point-oh-eight.
“All the little things you do at practice show up in the races.
“That’s when you realize all the hard work you put in is worth it.”
While Doyle competed in districts his freshman and sophomore campaigns, he did not swim in the competition last year. He had a good excuse. He was busy trying to earn a spot in the U.S. Olympic swim trials competing in the Arena Pro Swim Series that took place in Orlando.
Three years after competing in his first D-1 swim meet, Connor says the times have dropped dramatically since freshman year.
“I was extremely surprised; the times are just shocking,” he said.
“The racing is a lot faster than it was three years ago,” he added. “I remember doing a 54 in the 100 back freshman year and that made states.
“That would not even be looked at this year.
Doyle attributes the faster times to recent graduates Mike Jenson, of Upper Dublin, and Hatboro-Horsham’s Mike Thomas. Current collegiate swimmers at the University of California-Berkley, the pair raised the bar in District 1 and statewide, for that matter.
“The sport has always been getting more popular and, I think, Jenson and Thomas were outstanding swimmers; they definitely put this sport in the spotlight.
“They were so fast, they took us to the next level.”
A graduate of Upper Dublin High School, Jensen is a current freshman at the University of California who qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials in the 50, 100 and 200 free as well as the 100 fly. Thomas is a two-time PIAA medalist in both the 100 and 200 freestyle events.
A product of Hatboro-Horsham, Thomas is a current sophomore at UCal who captured a PIAA medal in the 100 back, setting a new national record in the event for 15/16 year-olds.
With his group entering the event as a 14 seed, Doyle also had a hand in helping the Falcons earn a sixth-place district medal in the 400 free relay. Together with freshman Will Deitch, senior Connor Nadel, junior Matt Babel, Pennsbury finished in a tie with Boyertown with Doyle swimming the anchor leg, touching back at 3:13.05.
The Falcons also took a seventh place medal in the 200 medley relay. In addition to Doyle, Nadel and Deitch, freshman Damian Szlaga also chipped in to the medal-winning time of 1:37.65.
In his final campaign in a Falcon uniform, Doyle helped lead Pennsbury to a third consecutive Suburban One League National Conference team trophy Feb. 18 at CR North. The senior won the 200 IM in 1:52.50, shattering his pool record of 1:54.95 set on Feb. 14, 2015, and his school record of 1:53.14, also set in 2015.
He also won the 500 freestyle in a pool-record time of 4:39.74, lowering the previous mark of 4:43.04 set in 2012 by William Tennent’s Connor Forlini.
Pennsbury’s female swimmers at districts were junior Cate Kosko and freshman Brooke Garretson. Senior Nicole Costello, this year’s Suburban One National League diving champion, also competed in districts for the Lady Falcons.
TOP PHOTO: Pennsbury senior Connor Doyle, top of the podium, earned a silver medal in the 100 breast a day after grabbing a gold medal in the District One Class AAA swimming championships March 3 at LaSalle University’s Kirk Pool.