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2013-02-06 / Sports

Trinity Episcopal swimmers break school records

By Jim McConnell


Trinity Episcopal senior Derek Tomenchok competes in the 100-yard backstroke during last week’s meet at Collegiate School Aquatics Center. Trinity Episcopal senior Derek Tomenchok competes in the 100-yard backstroke during last week’s meet at Collegiate School Aquatics Center. After coming in from the cold, Trinity Episcopal School’s swimmers have turned up the heat on their competition this season.

Over the last three weeks, the Titans’ relay teams have broken three school records – two of which fell during Trinity’s final, regular-season meet last Wednesday at the Collegiate School Aquatics Center.

The team of junior Kira Tomenchok, freshman Zoe Trenz, freshman Kasey Newton and senior Alex Upadhyaya established a new school record in the girls 200-yard freestyle relay with a winning time of 1:43.45.

On the boys’ side, sophomore Patrick Groh and seniors Joseph Pankey, Thomas Ferguson and Derek Tomenchok broke the school record in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:41.54.


Trinity Episcopal coach Ashley Tremper (second from left) and several of the Titans swimmers cheer for their teammates in the 400-yard freestyle relay during last week’s meet at Collegiate School Aquatics Center. Trinity Episcopal coach Ashley Tremper (second from left) and several of the Titans swimmers cheer for their teammates in the 400-yard freestyle relay during last week’s meet at Collegiate School Aquatics Center. It was the second record-setting performance of the 2012-13 season for the boys foursome, which also shattered by nearly two seconds a 13-year-old standard in the 200- yard freestyle relay during a meet Jan. 12 at Woodberry Forest.

“Me, Joseph and Thomas have been together a long time,” said Derek Tomenchok. “We’ve been the core of the team for the last three years and we’re ready to lead the team to our best finish at states.”

The Virginia Independent Schools state swimming championships will be held in Chesterfield County on Feb. 15-16.

Trinity will co-host the meet along with Collegiate and the Greater Richmond Aquatics Partnership at the Collegiate School Aquatics Center, a state-of-the-art facility that opened last March near the intersection of Iron Bridge Road and Chippenham Parkway.

The new aquatics center has been a major boon for Trinity swimming, which at this time last year was a program without a pool.

The Titans were unable to use their regular home pool at ACAC in Midlothian last winter because it was closed for renovation. They practiced before school at St. Catherine’s School, but had nowhere to go after school.

So Trinity’s swimmers spent most afternoons in the outdoor pool at the Midlothian YMCA. A large canvas party tent was erected over the pool to keep swimmers and coaches out of the elements. Still, the situation was far from optimal.

“It was a heated pool, but it was still really cold,” recalled Sara Shama, one of Trinity’s nine seniors honored prior to last Wednesday’s meet.

That bone-chilling experience not only brought the Titans closer together, it made them appreciate their plush, new digs even more than they might have otherwise.

“We’ve never had anything like this before,” added fellow senior Ellen Overby. “We have the whole pool to ourselves. We’ve been able to get in a lot more pool time this season.”

Trinity’s swimmers work hard outside the pool, too, during regular “dry land” training sessions with Adam Banwarth, the school’s strength and conditioning coach.

The stopwatch shows that the Titans have made the most of the additional practice. The girls’ team carried an undefeated record into Saturday’s League of Independent Schools championship meet at St. Catherine’s. The boys’ squad has lost three times, but coach Alice Phillips said it’s still been one of its most successful seasons in recent memory.

“This year, we definitely have more depth of talent,” said Phillips, who is in her 11th year with the program.

Trinity’s girls have been bolstered by an influx of young talent, led by speedy eighth-grader Meghan Burton. A strong freshman class that includes Newton, Trenz and Kate Nezelek also has consistently contributed to the team’s winning effort.

“Every year we lose a big group of seniors, so it’s nice to have them,” senior Maggie Sweeney said. “They’ve balanced out the team really well.”

Along with Groh and fellow sophomore Tray Pankey, promising freshmen Aidan Sullivan, Sam Kettlewell-Sites and Sam Hatley give Trinity’s boys a solid foundation to build on after Ferguson, Derek Tomenchok and Joseph Pankey graduate this spring.

“I try to come to practice and push the other guys, and remind everybody that we’re trying to achieve something better than we ever have before,” Tomenchok said.

With a sparkling new pool and a successful season coming to a close, there’s a different vibe surrounding Trinity’s swim program these days.

“This year it’s different because the kids know we can win,” said Ashley Tremper, who coaches the varsity swim teams with Phillips. “We have a lot of talent and they believe what we tell them.”

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