This past Wednesday afternoon, Stoneman Doulgas’s Eagles took on the smaller Monarch Knights team in a District meet at the Deerfield Beach Aquatic Center. Both teams wrapped up their warmups by 4:30 p.m., and immediately huddled together near their respective benches in tight-nit circles. Swimmers from both sides began loudly chanting their team cheers to hype themselves up for the competition, with boys team co-captains seniors Joey Wong and Tristan Celestin leading the Eagles cheer. Coming off several impressive performances, Douglas was looking to continue to improve – and they did just that.
In the first match, the 200M Medley, both the boys and the girls took immediate leads, with the boys “A” relay winning by just over 15 seconds off the strong performances of Celestin and sophomore Justin Irwin. In the very next swim, the girls came with an even stronger showing with junior Anna Gally winning the 200M Freestyle by over 16 seconds; the boys also breezed through the 200M Freestyle, with Irwin taking the match by an incredible 26 seconds. Monarch was unable to grab a victory in the first four matches, yet came close with the girls only coming short by one second in both the 200M Medley and 50M Freestyle; with the boys, however, it wasn’t nearly as close – with the most competitive match being an 8 second loss in the 200M Individual Medley. Even in an event that is traditionally close, the 50M Freestyle, Celestin finished with an impressive time of 22.72 seconds – 12.5 seconds faster than either of Monarch’s swimmers.
“It’s amazing to see the team perform like￼ this,” says senior Joey Wong, who helped lead the boys to a 14 second victory in the 200M Freestyle Relay with his role in their 1:35.63 minute finish. “We were confident coming into the match and were looking forward to coming home with a victory, so I’m especially glad with how we showed out.”
And so the rest of the meet continued, with Monarch coming close in some of the girl’s events after the 10 minute break following the first four events passed, eventually stealing a win in the 100M Backstroke – their only victory of the day. The Eagles showed dominance throughout, especially in the 100M Backstroke and again in the 100M Breaststroke, with the two of the girls taking the first by almost 23 seconds, and Celestin the latter by an even wider 28 seconds. Although it was clear that Monarch’s lesser amount of swimmers played somewhat of a factor, it was easy to see which team was superior in this meet. Both the boys and girls won by rather excessively large margins, with the final scores totaling 135-27 and 125-38 Douglas, respectively.
“Being with my teammates, especially in such a victory, is one of the best feelings,” says senior Charlene Forti, who helped lead the girls to a 6 second victory in the 200 Freestyle Relay with a 2:04 minute time. “This year, I feel like we are much more enthusiastic. We’ve improved a lot since the start of the season and many members have dropped seconds off their personal records.” Assistant Coach Andy Hoffman shares this sentiment as well, stating that, “As we keep practicing, our swimmers keep developing further, which reflects in their improving times and personal records.”
And practice they do. The swimmers train everyday of the week, with practices from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday night, and from 4:45 to 6:45 a.m. before school on Friday mornings, with each swimmer training for whichever event they specialize in. With the Broward County Athletic Association Swimming and Diving Championship coming up on October 8th, the intensity and focus of these practices is only increasing.
“With this meet done, we only have two more left until the County Championship in Plantation, and its clear that everyone’s tuning up their performances to where they need to be,” said Head Coach Lauren Rubenstein. “Our hard work and daily practice regiment are definitely showing now more than ever. Our times are getting faster, and I’m really happy to see our progression this season.”
The Eagles’ next meet will be next Wednesday, September 28 at 7 p.m. in an out-of-District series, competing against the hosting Pines Charter while facing a rematch against Stranahan High – who they defeated handily in their previous match. Coming off this roaring victory, the team is looking to continue its budding hot streak through the end of the season.