By Billy Kilgallin ’13, Features Editor
The Gonzaga swimmers and divers jumped, splashed and cannonballed into the Germantown Aquatic Center pool in celebration. The Eagles had scored a meet-record 503 points to capture their second consecutive Metros Swimming and Diving Championship and their first “Triple Crown” in 9 years.
Gonzaga Swimming and Diving’s journey to three championship banners began early in the season as the team traveled down to Puerto Rico to train over the Winter break. Departing from BWI Airport, the Aqua Eagles were the only high school team among a dozen or more college teams training in San Juan, and the Gonzaga men proved to be as tough as any.
Just a few hours after their arrival, the swimmers and divers jumped into the pool for the first of many workouts. Coach Josh Klotz explained the objectives of training trip. Highlighting the senior members of the team, he said that they had six weeks remaining as Gonzaga swimmers and that it was our job as a team to put in the work to create an unforgettable season.
The whole team accepted Coach Klotz’s challenge and got behind that mission, swimming a total distance of well over 70,000 meters. There was dry-land strength training, sprints and distance running, open water swimming (resulting in a few bad jellyfish stings), and set after set after set, including the infamous New Year’s Eve special 100x100m set. That’s right – one hundred swims in a row, each 100-meters long. But in true Gonzaga spirit, the swimmers and divers managed to have their share of fun despite the grueling workouts. Kayaking into the world-famous Bioluminescent Bay at night proved to be the favorite outing of some swimmers. Zip lining high above the Puerto Rican rainforest in 80-degree weather was the perfect escape from winter, and a favorite activity of others. Others thought the amazing experience of cooling down in waterfalls during a hike into the rainforest was the highlight.
The training trip appears successful as the team has asserted itself not only as the most dominant team in Gonzaga history but also perhaps the strongest team to come out of the D.C. metropolitan area. Since returning to Gonzaga, the Aqua Eagles have captured titles at the National Catholic Championships, the Washington Metropolitan Prep School Swim and Dive League Championships, and Metros, setting new meet scoring records at WMPSSDLs (540 points) and Metros (503). At National Catholics in Philadelphia, Gonzaga defeated Baltimore powerhouse Loyola Blakefield to win the meet for the first time since 2003. Senior Sean Sullivan and Coach Klotz won Swimmer of the Meet and Coach of the Meet honors, respectively. At WMPSSDLs and Metros, Gonzaga received unprecedented performances from both swimmers and divers. The Aqua Eagles concluded the season with team records from Sullivan (50 and 100 free), Tim Barry (100 back) and the 200 free relay team (Paul O’Hara, Barry, Madison Hardimon, Sullivan).