Mlodzienski, Radnor fly like the Eagles

RADNOR >> Nick Mlodzienski watched from the block as Radnor teammate Andrew Davis turned for home in the 200 freestyle relay and formed a simple thought. We can’t lose this, the junior sprinter’s mind registered.

Earlier in the week, the depth of that sentiment was more cogent. But in the final meters, as Mlodzienski thrummed toward the wall, his mind focused on just getting his hand in.

“I know my teammates worked hard all year, and earlier in the week, we saw the psych sheets and we were like, oh we can win this,” Mlodzienski said. “Against Conestoga, they’re undefeated, they’ve got really good swimmers, and we were like, we’re the underdogs, almost like the Eagles, and we can do this.

“And we pulled it out.”

Mlodzienski roared past Conestoga anchor Kevin Ryle, reversing a half-second disadvantage to win in a Central League meet record 1 minute, 27.12 seconds. The team of Patrick Cullen, James El-Diery, Davis and Mlodzienski trailed at each wall, but the anchor found the power to surge in the nick of time.

The race started fast, with Cullen, who’d won the 50 in 21.37 seconds, outsprinted by Brendan Burns (winner of the 200 individual medley in near-record time) via a leadoff leg of 21.15. El-Diery clawed back two-tenths from Oliver Brown, but Owen Neumann stretched the lead by .34 seconds, handing Ryle, the 200 free champ, a cushion of .45. Mlodzienski, who finished third in the 100 butterfly, made up the margin with a split of 21.48.

“I enjoy the adrenaline rush,” Mlodzienski said of anchor duty. “I know my teammates worked hard, one is still in the pool working hard, and I’ve got to do the same thing. I’ve got to meet their level.”

Ryle outkicked Will Resweber of Strath Haven to win the 200 free in 1:43.77. Burns glided to victory in the IM in 1:51.62, just shy of the meet/Radnor pool record set by teammate Brian McKenrick last year (1:51.38). Cullen separated himself from Harriton’s Nick Anstadt to win the 50 by fourth-tenths.


As they stood on the podium and listened to the announcer, to no one in particular, Noelle DiClemente confirmed, “yes, we did that.”

“That” For DiClemente, a win in the 50 free, outsprinting Penncrest’s Claire Walsh in 24.19 seconds. For the Garnet Valley foursome, a second straight 200 free relay title and a pool record 1:38.30.

It was a big day for the Jags, who got used to ascending the podium. It started in the IM, where GV freshman Madison Kolessar won last year. This season, rookie Catherine Weaverling took gold in 2:08.54, with Amy Townend third. Weaverling’s success helped DiClemente prep for her 50, taking down Walsh, the top seed who claimed silver in 24.55.

“I was so nervous beforehand,” DiClemente said. “I was just trying to focus on myself. I try not to pay attention to Claire. I know she’s really good competition, but when I turned and saw that she was right next to me, I just tried to stay with her and just tried to do the best I could.”

In the relay, DiClemente was tasked with the anchor leg for the team of Anastasia Erley (fourth in the 50), Alexa Hipp and Weaverling. Up against Conestoga’s Sophia Poeta, who was third in the 50, and a Pioneers’ relay with an identical seed, DiClemente had her task cut out, and she responded with a composed swim to repel Poeta’s advance by a quarter-second.

“I knew I was anchoring and I knew when I dove in, I expected it was going to be close,” she said.


As a freshman last year, Garnet Valley’s Griffin Young played a daring waiting game. He finished just out of the mix in the 200 IM and didn’t learn he’d be swimming the 500 free until the morning of the District 1 Championships, called in as an alternate.

The goal this year was to alleviate doubt. Young promptly trimmed 10 seconds off his seed and 3.5 seconds off a lifetime best in 2:04.50. He tied for 11th place, but it was job done for his primary objective.

“It kind of served as motivation for me, because it’s really unfortunate what happened last year,” Young said. “I was .03 away from the spot that got into districts, and it was really frustrating. So being able to come here this year, I really wanted to get to districts. That was a big goal for me at the beginning of the season, and I was really happy I was able to do it.”

Young torched his heat, winning it by more than three seconds. He improved his seed from 23rd to a near top-10 finish.

“I had no idea I was going that fast,” Young said. “I was just trying to go all out, trying not to think about that and just hit my time.”


NOTES >> Haverford claimed the boys 200 medley relay with the team of Zach Given, David Abrahams, Jackson Graham and Leo Goldszal in 1:37.95. Graham was second in the 100 fly, .17 seconds behind Harriton’s Christopher Snyder (52.43). … League girls champ Conestoga claimed its share of gold with a commanding win in the medley relay. Madison Ledwith (56.89) outdueled Strath Haven’s Liz Olszewski (58.72) in the 100 fly. Olszewski was also second in the IM. Lower Merion’s Anna Kalandadze won the 200 free for the third straight year, besting her two-year-old pool/meet record with a time of 1:52.84.

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