Owsiany sets Delco mark, five pool records fall in meeting of heavyweights

NEWTOWN SQUARE — A close meet wasn’t something any of the parties on deck Tuesday expected.

But with championship season closing in quickly, the collision of Haverford School, Episcopal Academy and Agnes Irwin had its merits, as a measuring stick and a chance to race.

The final scores — 101-83 for the Fords, 113-71 for the Churchwomen — weren’t in question for long Tuesday. But that one-sidedness allowed room for plenty of entertaining and productive races.

The most impressive aspect of Tuesday’s performances is their timing during the height of training, with swimmers building up the yards before resting ahead of Easterns next month. If times like Tuesday’s are possible during such hard training, it’s tempting to wonder what can be done at the apex of the season.

Take Josh Owsiany, the three-time All-Delco diver from Episcopal who is still bolstering his program for a run at a fifth (yes, fifth) straight Easterns title. That work-in-progress yielded a score of 368.55, a Delaware County record. Owsiany, who holds the 11-dive record, wrested the six-dive mark of 358.70 from 2004 Ridley grad Josh Bonner.

“It’s so awesome. I’m very happy about it,’ the Duke signee said. “I thought this was my last home meet, so I thought that I would go for it all. I’m so ecstatic that I can’t really believe it. It’s so surreal.’

That type of result typified a day in which five pool records bit the dust.

For the Fords, the trip to EA was a rare opportunity to test themselves in a yards pool, with their home meets all calibrated in meters. Particularly for some of the younger Fords, it represented an important opportunity to check their progress.

Generally, the results were to their liking. Whether it was Matt Haigh setting pool records in the 200 freestyle (142.62) and 500 freestyle (4:38.60) or Charlie Ryan trouncing the field in the 200 individual medley in 1:57.08, it was a chance to set a fast yards time and make a statement of postseason intent.

“I think’s it’s a confidence booster,’ Haigh said of his 500. “I try to limit the times I swim the 500 because sometimes my head gets in the way. And with a 500 like that, it’s fun to be able to get up and see what I can do before Inter-Acs and Easterns.’

Despite the lopsided score, the boys meet featured a handful of entertaining races. Ben Nelligan (who won the 50 free) beat Waylon Jin by .01 in the 100 butterfly, while EA’s Ben Baturka outkicked Ryan to the wall in the 100 free. Haverford School’s Alex Boratto returned the favor to Baturka in the 100 backstroke, controlling the race en route to a win in 51.51 seconds.

Whether the races were close or not, the common theme was a prevalence of fast times that will prove beneficial in the long run.

“For me personally, I just came off a really intensive winter training,’ said Jin, a Brown signee who also posted a very fast 59.74 en route to victory in the 100 breaststroke. “I didn’t really rest much for this meet and I really didn’t expect much out of this meet, but it’s a really good stepping stone for the team.

“When we go against really fast teams, we wouldn’t really say we have a good chance of beating them, but it’s a good chance to race. It can motivate the swimmers so that we know that there are a lot of better people out there.’

The girls meet didn’t feature as many nail-biting races, but the depth of the Churchwomen allowed them to push each other. Emma Seiberlich and McKenzie Street were neck-and-neck in the 50, the former winning in 25.03 seconds, while Street had to fight off Rachel Farmer to win the 100 free.

The meet was especially important for Seiberlich, who also won the 100 fly. Coming off a trip to the Arena Pro Swim Series in Austin, Tex., last weekend where she scored her second 2016 Olympic Trials Cut in the 200 fly, the meet was a chance to get back into the high school swing.

Rivalry with Agnes Irwin aside, Seiberlich took the meet as an opportunity to get re-acclimated with the short-course pool and work out some aspects of her repertoire, like her fly turn mechanics and her sprinting burst.

“Just getting the win is really important, but we’re also trying to come together as a team,’ the reigning Daily Times Girls Swimmer of the Year said. “These kinds of meets, where we aren’t really concerned with winning the meet, we can kind of try new things.’

Sarah Baturka added wins in the 200 free and 100 back, and Heidi Zirnkilton (500) and Nikki Cannon (100 breast) also won.

Maddie Aguirre (200 IM) and diver Marin Bloise came up with the wins for Agnes Irwin.

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