Big Blue's season jumps off on Friday with talent to watch!
Three Pingry swimmers—two current and one former—competed last week in the prestigious USA Swimming Winter Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, which draws the best college and professional swimmers from across the U.S.
Darlene Fung '19 qualified in not one but four events: the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, the 100-yard butterfly, and 100-yard backstroke. Teammate Lindsay Rispoli '18, who competed in the Junior National Championships last summer, qualified for the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke. The event was a first for both Big Blue swimmers.
Also competing was Pingry record-holder and professional swimmer Nic Fink '11, who competed in the Olympic Trials for the second time last summer but narrowly missed a ticket to Rio. At last week's event, he took sixth in the 200-yard individual medley, third in the 200-yard breaststroke, and, in an act of redemption, won the 100-yard breaststroke—his specialty—in a meet and personal record of 50.80. It was his first national title, finishing in a time that makes him the fourth fastest 100-yard breaststroker ever. It's worth noting that just behind Nic was runner-up Cody Miller, who won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics last summer in the very same event.
Darlene, who advanced to the finals in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, admitted to feeling a bit intimidated heading into the event, but returned to Pingry ebullient. "I have to say, this meet was the most amazing experience! Being feet away from so many Olympians was so humbling, and I was so proud to watch Pingry's own Nic Fink win the 100 breaststroke! I did final in the 50-free and 100-free, which I didn't really expect, so that was a nice surprise. Finals provided another whole new experience of racing in the same heats as many swimmers in their 20s!"
"Swimming at Nationals was such an amazing experience," said Lindsay. "I got a PR in the 100-yard breaststroke and was close to a PR in the 200. It was so cool to be swimming in the same meet as Olympians and other insanely fast swimmers. It was an experience I will hold with me forever."
For her part, Head Coach of the Girls' Varsity Swim Team Deirdre O'Mara noted that the meet truly gathers the country's elite swimmers. "Darlene and Lindsay are great teammates and positive role models," she said.
Pingry swimmers will appear on the national stage yet again this week for the "Eastern" division of the Speedo Winter Junior Championships, held from December 6–9. Matt Fallon '21, Leighton Mayers '19, Will Zhang '18, and Sean Tan '18 will travel to Knoxville, Tennessee for the high-caliber event. "It's an incredible achievement to even qualify for this meet and we have three attending," says Coach O'Mara.
Congratulations, Big Blue swimmers!
Watch this interview with Nic Fink '11 on swimswam.com following his victory at Winter Nationals.
Contact: Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer, email@example.com