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North Penn, Upper Dublin poised to defend conference titles

North Penn’s Sean Kaikish competes in the 200 individual medley relay during the Knights' meet against Souderton on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

This coming week is chock full of conference meets, as area teams get the postseason rolling.

The North Penn boys and girls are looking to defend their Suburban One League Continental Conference titles while the Upper Dublin boys and girls are out to defend their SOL American crowns.

This time last year…

The North Penn boys capped off things in style at Continentals when they broke a meet record in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

“I didn’t realize we broke it until after my teammates started jumping around,” anchor man Sean Faikish would say afterwards. “We weren’t actually looking for the record. We were looking to swim our personal best because we wanted to end the meet strong, go out on top.

“My teammates gave me a good shot to win it. And I went out there and swam my butt off for them.”

Every member of that relay — Aidan Daly, Ryley Fein, Ryan Hartmann and Faikish — is back this year for the Knights and should be a key contributor as NP looks to add another conference title to the trophy case.

North Penn’s 400 free last year swam a 3:12.69, replacing the previous record set by North Penn in 2013, emblematic of the Knights’ conference success over the years.

They have multiple performers returning who racked up some first-place finishes a season ago.

Daly (200 and 500 free), Noah Jamieson (100 fly), Faikish (200 IM and 100 breast), and the medley relay foursome of Hartmann, Fein, Jamieson and Faikish were all gold medalists a season ago at the conference meet.

For the North Penn girls, diver Paige Burrell aims to defend her title and the Knights also have a bevy of swimmers with big-meet experience.

One of them is Megan Zartman, who helped power the Knights to the title last year with a second place in the 500 and then a fourth in the backstroke, with just nine minutes in between the two races.

Claudia Thamm is back — she is the defending conference champ in the 50 free and 100 fly.

North Penn likes the way it is entering the postseason. The conference championships (diving Wednesday at NP, boys swimming Friday at CB South, girls swimming Saturday at NP) get it started and then it’s off to districts and states.

Said coach Jeff Faikish of the final week of the regular season: “A week like this really prepares them for district and state competition because here you are swimming three days in a row, and some of these kids were swimming four events, four events and three events, and that prepares them for a two-day championship competition.”

Getting down for the crown

Upper Dublin posts a strong lineup on both the boys and girls side as the Cardinals go for another SOL American title.

Performers like Elle Braun (200 free), Aly Breslin (200 IM), Abbie Amdor (50 free/100 free), Kelly Regan (diving), Rebecca Pendleton (200 IM) and Molly Braun (100 fly) represent the Upper Dublin girls while the boys are bolstered by Kornel Pesti (200 free), Jake DiMartile (200 IM/100 back), Alex Flynn (50 free/100 free), Michael Burke (diving), Matt Jensen (100 fly/100 breast) and Jake Kramer (500 free).

This time of year is usually title time for Upper Dublin.

“(The conference title) has been our goal since Day One,” said Pendleton. “It’s tradition, and as a senior, I know it’s one of the things that everyone on the team wants.

“I’m feeling great, I think a lot of my teammates are. So far we have a sizeable amount going to districts and I’m hoping that some other girls step up during Suburbans once we get to that taper time and they pull out that taper time and season bests.”

La Salle ready to go

On Feb. 23 and 24, the Explorers will be going for their 30th consecutive Philadelphia Catholic League title as well as a 10th straight District 12 title.

“It’ll be interesting at the end of the year — when all of the races get sorted out and we see who is swimming what — to really see how these guys are performing,” La Salle coach Stephen Duncheskie said as the regular season was winding down. “So much of the bulk is young kids.

“So it’s been fun since November kind of watching them grow and I’ll be excited when we get to the end, to really see what they can do in the water. It’s gonna be pretty cool.”

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