This winter both the boys and girls swim teams posted impressive seasons. Classics teacher John Burke, who has served as the boys’ head coach for 12 years, elaborated; “This year has been extraordinary. I have never experienced anything like it. It was an unexpected, but pleasant surprise, and each time I look back on it, I am amazed again.”
This season was unique as it was the first time the boys and girls have shared a coach. Previously they practiced together several days a week, but English teacher Sonja O’Donnell instructed the girls. With Ms. O’Donnell on sabbatical away from Deerfield this year, Dr. Burke was at the helm of both squads, ably supported by two new assistant coaches, Mark Spencer and Caroline Savage.
According to Dr. Burke, “At first [the set-up] took some getting used to, but the Florida trip really sealed the team’s bond, providing a chance for us to train and socialize together outside of a school environment.”
This Long Winter Weekend trip strengthened not only the team’s camaraderie, but also their skills, which they demonstrated throughout the season by accumulating numerous records and boasting great results.
Both the boys and girls teams enjoyed remarkable results this season. The boys finished third and the girls fourth at the season-culminating New England Prep School Championship meet.
Additionally, the teams performed well at Easterns, a large national meet in Philadelphia. Even among traditional powerhouse schools from the mid-Atlantic, including the Peddie School, Loyola Blakefield, and Germantown Academy, the boys placed seventh out of 28 teams, and the girls placed eighth out of 27 teams.
At a sub-regional meet, Westerns, the boys earned second place out of 12 teams, and the girls placed fourth out of 12 teams.
The team’s unprecedented performance was due in part to the efforts of several standout swimmers, who broke a total of nine New England and Deerfield records this season.
Boys Captain Quinn Smith ’14, who received the Babcock Award at the New England Prep School Championships, set individual New England records in both the 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard individual medley and set a Deerfield record in the 100-yard breaststroke. Matt Hrabchak ’15 also set a New England record in the 200 freestyle, adding to one he earned last year in the 500 freestyle at the same meet. Miles Smachlo ’16 also claimed a new Deerfield record in the 100-yard butterfly.
These three swimmers, along with teammate Alan Lam ’15, also broke the Deerfield record in the 400-yard freestyle relay, and with Doug Vallar, broke the New England 200-yard freestyle relay by one hundredth of a second.
On the girls side, the 200 medley relay team, including Bryn Everson ’15, Claire Collins ’15, Rhyan Brode ’17 and Juliette Lee ’14, placed second at New Englands in the event and set a new Deerfield record. Additionally, Collins set a new Deerfield record in the 100 breaststroke.
Along with the numerous records set at the season-ending New England Championship meet hosted by Hotchkiss, Deerfield swimmers were also able to set several short course meter records during a dual meet at Loomis Chaffee. These short course meter records are logged separately from those measured in yards, because they are slightly longer.
The only schools in Deerfield’s division with short course meter pools are Choate and Loomis Chaffee, so Deerfield swimmers have few opportunities to break those records. Deerfield swimmers took advantage of the chance, breaking records in the 200-meter medley relay and 100-meter butterfly. Hrabchak also snatched another record during the 400-meter freestyle.
Whether the team will continue to be co-ed next year still remains a mystery. However, it is certain that the team will benefit from a vital core of returning swimmers.