The boys’ varsity swimming and diving team, the Pirates, defeated Susan Wagner 60-38 on Thursday, February 16, in the PSAL championship game.
While there seems to be a significant difference in the scores, coach Peter Bologna believed that the game was a difficult one to win. “[Susan Wagner] had six really fast swimmers, but the way the meet works, we were able to excel at the end because we have a lot of good swimmers, which we rotated between,” he said.
This season, in the Bronx/Manhattan league, Stuyvesant was undefeated with eight wins. The Pirates’ closest regular meet was against Roosevelt Educational Campus High School with a final score of 44 to 39.
The Pirates also eased their way through playoffs with support from family and friends alike as two of the three meets were held at Stuyvesant. “I thought [the final] was going to be a challenge, but thankfully we pulled through with quite a [large] margin,” senior Kevin Zheng said.
Last year, the team lost to Brooklyn Technical High School in the finals of the playoffs, leaving them hungry for a win. Although they were undefeated in their league last season, the tight loss caused the team to rethink their approach this year. “We felt we were the best in the city, but in that one meet, that one final meet, we ended up losing, and it hit us very hard,” Bologna said.
Before this season, the team had officially lost four times in a row in finals. Many members of the team started to take the sport more seriously and trained harder during off-season. “That loss was pretty devastating and left us broken, but we picked ourselves up and trained hard, and we were able to win,” sophomore Ethan Park said.
“The team, in general, came back in great shape, and I felt they really wanted [the banner],” Bologna said.
“It really was not a good feeling to go undefeated all season, and then lose the last and most important meet,” said sophomore Elias Economou, who placed first at several 200-meter events throughout the season. “All of us put in hard work during practice this season, and looking back now, being champions definitely validates the work we put in.”
Additional motivation for the Pirates came from the fact that this was coach Peter Bologna’s last season coaching due to his new role as Assistant Principal of Physical Education. “Given the fact that this was our coach’s last year, we really wanted to bring back the banner to Stuy[vesant] for him,” sophomore Andrew Chopey said. “In the future, I, as well as the whole team, would love for our win this year to be the start of a new era for Stuyvesant’s swim team.”
After this victory, the Pirates sent sophomore Nicholas Wen to the state championship this year. “We received a lot of talented swimmers, and our veteran swim members put in the time and effort to improve themselves, whether it was joining a swim team outside of school or improving their technique,” Wen said. Most, if not all, of the boys were consistently practicing outside of Stuyvesant’s pool, even if they had early practice the next day.
Junior Vincent Yang believes he realized his potential after re-joining the team following a hiatus. Although he only swam in the last event of the semi-finals of playoffs, he noticed a big improvement from the beginning of the season. “I’ll definitely work harder to become a swimmer that the team can trust to win an event,” he said.
All in all, the boys dove into the season hungry for the championship title and were rewarded it after months of hard work. “With a fantastic close to the season, we’re definitely celebrating, but we already have our eyes on next season,” senior and co-captain Lawrence Kwong said.