The Penn Charter swimming and diving program had an excellent showing at the Eastern Championships at Franklin and Marshall College this past weekend. The girls team won the day outright, repeating as champions for the second year in a row, while the small but mighty boys team finished 16th out of 30 teams. These combined scores earned Penn Charter a fifth-place finish out of 45 teams.
Girls: Day One
For the second year in a row the Penn Charter Girls Swimming & Diving team huddled atop the starting block in lane one as they were presented the Eastern Prep Championship Bowl. After winning their first ever Easterns titles in 2017-2018, the team set their sites on a repeat very early in the season. And on Saturday, Feb. 16, they realized that goal when they repeated as champions.
The Eastern Prep Swimming & Diving Championship Meet is one of the most historic and largest independent school meets in the country. Forty-five teams from up and down the East Coast competed at Franklin & Marshall on Friday and Saturday.
The girls knew that defending their title would be difficult as Episcopal Academy, Germantown Academy, Mercersburg Academy, Academy of Notre Dame, and Greenwich Academy would all be working to dethrone the Quakers.
The girls started off the meet in spectacular fashion. The medley relay of Lane Murray, Sally Foley, Ayana Opong, and Camille Weiss swam to a team record, All-American consideration, and a second-place finish.
This was the start the team needed. In the very next event, Natalie Driscoll (24th) and Camille Weiss (3rd) gave the team valuable points in the individual 200 Freestyle. The next event brought the trio of Marissa Lopez-Ona (10th), Sabrina Shaffer (7th), and Sally Foley (3rd, team record, All-American consideration) placing in the 200 Individual Medley. Annika Murray (15th) and Sam Boyes (4th and team record) raced to personal bests in the splash-and-dash-sprint 50 Freestyle event.
The final individual event of the night was the 100 Butterfly. Like most of the other events, another team record fell as Gabby Lopez-Ona broke her own record on the way to a third place finish, Lane Murray finished 10th, and Ayana Opong came in 20th. Night one finished with the 200 Freestyle Relay. Sam Boyes, Gabby Lopez-Ona, Annika Murray and Lane Murray crushed the school record, will be considered for All-American, and took home the title in the relay. It was a great finish to a great first night.
While the swimming was happening at F&M, the female divers took to the boards at Germantown Academy to compete in the diving portion of the event. PC’s premier female diver, Avery Meyers, had a good day on the boards and earned the team valuable points while placing 15th overall. After the first day of competition, the PC Quakers were on top of the leaderboard with a score of 314 points, just ahead of Episcopal with 300 and Germantown Academy with 298.
Girls: Day Two
Day two started off with the 100 Freestyle. PC had one swimmer in the race, and Sam Boyes continued her great meet as she swam to a fifth-place finish. The next event, which has proven to be a strength for the Quakers over the past few seasons, was the 500 Freestyle. Sabrina Shaffer (18th), Gabby Lopez-Ona (7th) and Camille Weiss (3rd) earned hugely important points for the team. Weiss managed to lower her own team record and earn eligibility for consideration for All-American. Next up was the 100 Backstroke where sisters Annika Murray (19th) and Lane Murray (9th) had great nighttime swims.
The PC girls were trailing EA as they went into the final individual event of the evening. Luckily for the Quakers, they had two athletes swimming the A final. Marissa Lopez-Ona (7th) had a great swim and Sally Foley brought home the individual title while lowering her team record and swimming to an automatic All-American time. The final event of the night was the 400 Freestyle Relay. The girls entered the final session as the number one seed and did not disappoint. Sam Boyes led off in a team record time, while Gabby Lopez-Ona, Camille Weiss and Sally Foley finished off the relay to smash the team record by three seconds, swim to another automatic All-American time, and officially bring home the title of Eastern Prep Champions for the second year in a row.
The girls team is on a historic streak as they have won two consecutive Inter-Ac titles and two consecutive Eastern titles. Throughout those seasons they have not lost a dual meet and remain one of the top teams, public or private, in the area. A special thank you to senior captains Annika Murray, Ayana Opong and Natalie Driscoll for their great leadership and dedication to the program.
Boys: Day One
The boys team had a very successful two-day meet at Franklin & Marshall competing against some of the best schools in the country. Although small in numbers, the team swam to multiple best times and represented themselves extremely well over the two days at F&M.
The meet started off with the boys medley relay team of Tyler Juskalian, Lance Rainer, Zion Weeks and Cooper Berkoff swimming to a 14th-place finish. The boys all swam best times in the relay and dropped substantial time from earlier in the year.
Cooper Berkoff was the first individual to take to the pool as he swam to a win in the C final of the 50 Freestyle, once again lowering his best time. Fast swims and substantial time drops continued for Cooper throughout the weekend.
The final swim for the boys on night one was the 200 Freestyle Relay. Lance Rainer, Zack Kaplan, Liam McLafferty and Bret Brogan all had fast swims and placed 23rd overall in the event.
Boys: Day Two
Night two proved to be a stronger night for the Quaker boys. The night started off with Cooper Berkoff continuing his hot streak as he dropped more time in the 100 Free, swimming to a 22nd-place finish. Freshman Tyler Juskalian represented well as he placed 24th in the 100 Backstroke in his first Easterns championship meet.
The biggest time drop of the season came when Lance Rainer took the blocks for the 100 Breaststroke. Lance, who had been swimming around 1:04 most of the season, exploded for a 15th-place finish and broke the minute mark with a time of 59.88.
The final relay of the meet brought together Bret Brogan, Cooper Berkoff, Tyler Juskalian and Zion Weeks for the 400 Freestyle Relay. The boys swam fast, dropped time, and placed 16th overall.
The boys team placed 16th out of 30 schools. Although much smaller than many of the schools they competed against, the boys competed with confidence and the hard work they put in throughout the season paid off.
For the first time ever, the Easterns meet also gave out awards for combined team scores. Penn Charter took home the bowl for 5th place out of 45 teams. This is something the school should be proud of, especially with only 24 athletes competing.