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All-Delco Swimming: Four Fords highlight sizeable Inter-Ac contingent

Haverford School’s Antonio Octaviano, here winning the 200-meter IM in a meet against Malvern Prep, is a sophomore backstroke specialist whose versatility earned him an All-Delco nod.

In addition to Swimmers of the Year Alex Boratto and Mia Abruzzo, the All-Delco team includes:

Ivan Puskovitch, Episcopal Academy: The junior’s performance at Easterns was understatedly brilliant, with the added accolade of a Delaware County record. Puskovitch, who stars in open water swims and longer distances than high school competition, won the 500 freestyle, outdueling Hill School’s Alfonso Mestre for the title in 4:27.35, an All-American time and quicker than the Delco mark set by 2015 Daily Times Swimmer of the Year Matt Haigh (4:29.49). A three-time All-Delco pick, Puskovitch also took third at Easterns in the 200 individual medley, his time of 1:50.39 within a quarter-second of Brendan Hansen’s decades-old county mark. Puskovitch helped the EA 400 free relay finish fifth and the 200 free relay take eighth on the way to a fifth-place team finish.

Radnor’s Patrick Cullen (second from right) poses with his medal for finishing fifth in the 50-meter freestyle at the PIAA Class 3A Championships at Bucknell University.

John Nelligan, Haverford School: The senior was a vital cog in the Fords’ march to a first Easterns title. Nelligan finished tied for fifth in the 200 free at 1:40.96 and took sixth in the 100 free in 46.03. He swam the second leg on the winning 400 free relay to clinch the meet title in an All-American and Delco record time of 3:02.21 and anchored the silver-medal 200 free relay squad that likewise set All-American and Delco marks at 1:23.16.

Patrick Cullen, Radnor: The junior was the best of the PIAA swimmers by a sizeable margin, and he has the states medal to prove it. Cullen got progressively faster in the 50 free this postseason, finishing first among the District 1 cohort at PIAA Class 3A Championships with a time of 20.83 that earned fifth place. He also made it back in the 100 free to take 15th at states. He joined James El-Deiry, Nick Mlodzienski and Andrew Davis in taking home fifth place at states in the 200 free relay and 13th in the 400 free. Cullen was third in the 50 and fourth in the 100 free at districts.

Antonio Octaviano, Haverford School: The sophomore separated himself as the class of a historically deep breaststroke field, but Octaviano isn’t just a one-stroke specialist. His silver medal at Easterns in the 100 breast was plenty fast at 55.03, if overshadowed by the national record set by Reece Whitley of Penn Charter. Octaviano finished eighth in the 100 butterfly won by Boratto (he qualified fourth from prelims). He contributed the breaststroke leg to the third-place 200 medley relay, which set a Delco record and earned All-American recognition at 1:32.12, and wrapped up a busy Day 1 of Easterns by helping the Fords finish second in the 200 free relay, again with Delco-record and All-American quickness.

READ: The full list of All-Delco honorees

Brian Brennan, Haverford School: Brennan burst onto the scene as a freshman distance specialist with the IM/500 double last year. As a sophomore, he shifted his focus superbly for his second All-Delco nod, this time as a sprinter. Brennan posted an All-American time of 20.39 (in prelims) to take third in the 50 at Easterns, then went from fourth in prelims to a stirring win in the 100 free, his time of 44.96 nipping Warwick’s Jesse Washington by .02 to set the tone for the Fords’ furious march to a first Easterns title on Day 2. Brennan put the Fords into clean water with the fastest leadoff leg in the 400 free relay, an eventual come-from-behind victory thanks to Boratto to clinch the title in record fashion. Brennan also led off the second-place 200 free relay that set a Delco mark.

Garnet Valley’s Noelle DiClemente, left, poses with her certificate for winning first place in the 50 freestyle at the Central League championships. She finished a spot ahead of fellow All-Delco Claire Walsh of Penncrest, center.

Cole Whitsett, Episcopal Academy: The sophomore is part of a burgeoning stable of young talents for the Churchmen and contributed to a fifth-place team finish at Easterns. Whitsett finished fourth in the 100 fly in 50.50 seconds, then took eighth in the 100 free, his prelims time topping out at 46.96. Whitsett A-finaled with the Churchmen’s 200 free (eighth) and 400 free (fifth) relays.

Hadley DeBruyn, Episcopal Academy: The sparkplug of EA’s 2017 Easterns championship as a freshman, DeBruyn paced EA to a second-place finish this year and earned her second All-Delco nod. DeBruyn finished third in the 200 free at Easterns in 1:52.54, then took the silver medal behind teammate Alex Sumner in the 100 backstroke in 56.34 seconds. DeBruyn stuck to the freestyle relays at Easterns, anchoring the Churchwomen’s 200 free squad to a sixth-place result and the 400 free to a bronze medal. DeBruyn also won the 100 back title at the Inter-Ac Championships.

Alex Sumner, Episcopal Academy: The senior didn’t defend her female swimmer of the year title, but the soon-to-be Cal Golden Bear did earn a third All-Delco nod. Sumner opted for three relays at Easterns, which helped the defending champion Churchwomen take second place. Sumner made her individual swim pay off, blasting the field in the 100 back with a time of 54.19, good for a 1-2 with DeBruyn and an All-American cut. She was the only girls Easterns champ to win her event in a time faster than her PIAA counterparts (both Class 3A and 2A) this year, relays included. Sumner was part of two third-place EA relays and one that took sixth.

Maddie Aguirre, Agnes Irwin: The junior switched up her specialties to great effect at Easterns. Aguirre swapped the 100 breast for the 100 back, taking sixth in the event in 58.03 seconds. She stuck with her bread and butter in the IM, finishing third in 2:04.43. Aguirre swam the breaststroke leg of the Owls’ medley relay to key a fifth-place finish and recorded the fastest split on the 400 free relay that notched a fourth-place medal on the way to the Owls taking sixth in the team competition. Aguirre is the first Agnes Irwin All-Delco swimmer since 2010 (Meghan Price).

Maddie Aguirre is the first Agnes Irwin swimmer to earn an All-Delco nod in eight years.

Wren Sablich, Episcopal Academy: The senior lands on the All-Delco team for a second straight season, this time with an Easterns title in tow. Sablich was the top scorer at the event, her 11-dive score of 409.05 edging teammate and classmate Maia Golub by 15 points for the crown. Sablich also bested Golub by a four-point margin to claim the Inter-Ac title with a six-dive score of 284.45.

Claire Walsh, Penncrest: The junior didn’t relinquish her title as the preeminent sprinter in Delco, and while she didn’t quite hit the speeds of her freshman campaign, she earned a second All-Delco nod. Walsh finished sixth at states in the 50 free in 23.53, within three tenths of her best high school time. She finished eighth in the 100 free, her best time in prelims at 51.07. Walsh also medaled in both events at the District 1 championships, taking fourth in the 50 and seventh in the 100 while helping the Lions 200 medley and 400 free relays each finish 12th.

Noelle DiClemente, Garnet Valley: The junior freestyler earned her first All-Delco nod, emerging to lead a team that weathered the unexpected departure of 2017 All-Delco and county record-holder Madison Kolessar, who elected not to swim scholastically in her sophomore season. No matter, since DiClemente stepped into the role of relay closer. She earned four swims at states, her highest finish in the 50 free, where she won the B final in 23.74 seconds to finish ninth. She finished 18th in the 100 free and helped two Garnet Valley relays make states. The 200 free relay (which had medaled in fourth at the District 1 championships) was disqualified in prelims, but the 400 free made it back to finish 15th. DiClemente medaled in seventh in the 50 at districts and navigated a 100 free field that was so deep that her 16th place finish earned an at-large states bid.



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