Haddonfield’s Wedgewood Swim Club is used to coming out on top in the Tri-County Swimming Pool Association.
The team wrapped up its fifth consecutive undefeated dual meet season in July and entered the TCSPA Swimming Championships on the weekend of Aug. 1 looking for its third-consecutive team championship.
Wedgewood didn’t just win the championship, it won by its largest margin in the past three years.
Wedgewood swam to a big win at the 59th annual Tri-County Championships, defeating second-place Deerbrook Swim Club in Medford by 328.5 points. Wedgewood’s 1,371.5 points were the most any team had recorded in the Tri-County Championships since 2006.
Jim Villa, head coach for Wedgewood, said the win was a testament to the team’s depth.
“We had 16 kids make the finals this year,” he said. “We were also real strong in the relays this year, much more than in years past.”
The relays were a huge part of Wedgewood’s success. The girls’ 8-and-under 100-meter medley and freestyle relay teams both won their events. Wedgewood also won the boys’ 9–10 200-meter freestyle relay, the girls’ 11–12 200-meter freestyle relay and the boys’ 15–18 200-meter freestyle relay.
Wedgewood got strong performances from its younger swimmers. In addition to the relay team’s achievements, 8-year-old Meredith Whelehan won the girls’ 8-and-under 25-meter freestyle, 10-year-old Amelia Wright won the girls’ 9–10 25-meter backstroke and 12-year-old Grayson Wright was the winner in boys’ 11–12 50-meter butterfly.
“In the younger age groups, we went and swept the age groups in a lot of meets,” Villa said.
Wedgewood’s team makeup is much different than the other 35 swim clubs competing in the championships. Wedgewood’s bylaws prohibit it from recruiting swimmers outside Haddonfield. To counter this, Villa has established a strong development program for Haddonfield’s swimmers starting when they are as a young as 5 and 6 years old.
“We like to develop the kids on our own,” Villa said. “We are probably at a disadvantage in that we can’t recruit kids from anywhere like the other clubs can do. So it’s somewhat of a unique challenge to develop our kids into the best kids out here.”
Wedgewood’s focus throughout the season is on improving speed and skills. With Tri-County meets consisting of sprint events, swimming fast and mistake-free is key to coming out on top.
“We’re challenging them all the time. We dedicate ourselves to speed and skill,” Villa said. “That’s what we base our program on. You can’t make a mistake in a sprint race.”
Villa also works with a number of Haddonfield swimmers year-round. He also coaches at Jersey Wahoos in Mt. Laurel and said the number of Haddonfield swimmers coming out to Jersey Wahoos has increased each year.
“I’m fortunate to have a lot of these kids who swim year-round,” he said.
Wedgewood’s many hours of training and practice paid off in the biggest meet of the season. In the weekend’s final event, the boys’ 15–18 200-meter freestyle relay swam away with the win. While the team championship was decided well before the final race, it was very much a satisfying ending to a meet Wedgewood dominated from beginning to end.
“We had a great performance on Saturday and came back even stronger on Sunday,” Villa said. “They worked hard, they paid attention, they worked on the speed and skills we talked about.”