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The Journal Gazette

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Max Evans of Pine Valley takes off during his portion of a relay during the City Swim Meet on Sunday at the Helen P. Brown Natatorium. Pine Valley won the overall team title.

Monday, August 06, 2018 1:00 am

City Swim Meet

Pine Valley continues its run of City Swim titles

Elizabeth Wyman | The Journal Gazette

If the matching neon green boxing shorts and headbands the Pine Valley coaches sported as they instructed the young swimmers at the City Swim Meet didn't give it away, the sheer number of first place finishes the team took home did.

Pine Valley owns the swim scene in Fort Wayne, winning its fourth straight City Swim Meet on Sunday at the Helen P. Brown Natatorium.

“Our theme was boxing this year and we just always love to go out with our costumes for the kids,” Pine Valley head coach Alyssa Del Priore said. “The kids want to have fun. They want to see us having fun. So it just makes the whole day and the whole weekend that much better.”

It was a good weekend for Pine Valley – to say the least. With a total team score of 1,478.50 points, the defending champs dominated the meet.

Autumn Ridge came in second for the third year in a row with 948.50 points while Sycamore Hills rounded out the Top 3 with 837.50 points and also took home the spirit award.

“This is my last summer doing it (coaching), so ending on a high note is what I wanted and I'm really proud of all the kids,” Del Priore said.

Del Priore has been with the club for six years and head coach for three. Entering her senior year at Butler, she decided this would be her last summer.

It's no secret Pine Valley sends a large number of swimmers to the meet, but Del Priore said the team's focus is on making the club an attractive one for parents to have their kids join.

“We just always wanted to focus on the atmosphere of the team. We have fast swimmers, we have lots of kids, but for us, the atmosphere is most important,” Del Priore said. “Our parents, our coaches, and our kids just create this atmosphere of livelihood, fun energy, good sportsmanship and I think that, for me, is what is most important.”

That atmosphere brought home more than 20 first place finishes in the City Meet, including of a number of broken records from many teams:

• The Pine Valley girls 13-and-14 200-medley relay team of Laney Brooks, Kata Harmon, Ally Kneller and Lexi Jankowski broke an 18-year-old meet record with a time of 2:07.30.

• The Sycamore Hills team of Mia Herber, Lindsay Mallory, Kyra Tonsil and Halle Weaver also beat the record but came in second.

• The Pine Valley girls 13-and-14 200-freestyle relay team of Jankowski, Kneller, Brooks and Natiya Hoffman also broke a city record but came in second to the Sycamore Hills team of Tonsil, Weaver, Mallory and Hailey Todd who also beat the record, with a time of 1:54.58.

“Relays are always fun and when you see a record go down, that just adds to it,” Del Priore said.

Pine Valley's Luke Lawson said he dropped time in his events for the first time in a long time. While swimming with the club for three years now, he said the City Swim Meet provides a fun atmosphere to compete and hang out.

“Even though we're all competing against each other, we're all really close,” Lawson said. “We've all been on the same teams before.”

Lawson, a sophomore at Carroll, said Pine Valley needs to keep the momentum up and not get complacent with the success of recent years.

“I think we just need to keep training hard and staying focused and not getting lax with our training,” Lawson said.

Other top finishers include Finn Brooks from Pocahontas, who broke the boys 50-meter butterfly record with a time of 26.68, and Shelby Crist of Orchard Ridge, who broke the girls 15-and-over 50-meter backstroke with a time of 29.93.

If Pine Valley wants to keep its dynasty going next summer, it will have to do it without the head coach who got the team there.

“The kids make it all worth it. They knew going into the season it was my last summer and they just wanted to do the best, and it's a bittersweet moment,” Del Priore said. “They made my last season the best yet.”

ewyman@jg.net