More than a year after the team’s last major swim meet, the Montclair Dolphins’ performance at the YMCA Swimming Festival in Voorhees, NJ saw them re-write the team’s record book. This National-level competition gave the Dolphin’s qualifying team members the opportunity to compete against the top YMCA swimmers across the State. Over the course of four days, Montclair’s nine representatives rose to the occasion and broke no fewer than 14 team record’s– one of which stood for 25 years. Coach Paulo Madeira watched with pride and amazement as ten individual records fell; Ela Habjan- 50 Free, 100 Back, 200 Back, and 100 Fly, Ben Endersby – 50 Free, 100 Free, 100 Breast, and 100 Fly, and Connor Townson – 100 Back and 200 Breast. In addition, the boys’ relays broke four records; 200 and 400 Free Relays- Enzo Wood, Mizell McEachin, Finn Russell, and Ben Endersby, and the 200 and 400 Medley Relays – Connor Townson, Ben Endersby, Mizell
McEachin, and Finn Russell. Lily Foung , Caleb Foung, and Carly Frank also recorded multiple personal bests in their events. Coach Madeira said, “This meet was a success for all of our 9 participants. Our swimmers were super excited to be competing against “old foes”, as competition like this one has been non-existant.  I am so happy that all their hard work paid off!”

What made the team’s performance all the more noteworthy is the challenging year that led up the event. As with most aspects of life, the pandemic played havoc with competitive swim over the past year – causing the closure of New Jersey YMCAs for several months, limiting pool time for practice, and both minor and major swim meets being cancelled.

“Virtual swim meets” had teams racing in their own pool against an opposing team in their own pool. While these improvised meets gave the team the opportunity to race and improve upon their personal best times, they lacked the sense of immediacy and excitement (and spectators) that get the competitive adrenaline flowing.

Coach Madeira summed it up, “This has been a difficult year to train. The amount of training hours has been substantially reduced and practices were modified to reduce contact among team members. This was a recipe for a lost year, but the kids love for the sport and their hard work made it a successful season.”