Swimmers smash records at Tri-County Championships

Green-Fields wins team award, seven records also fall during weekend event

In the midst of a hot summer weekend, hundreds of South Jersey swimmers competed at the 2019 Tri-County Swimming Championships at Green-Fields Swim Club in West Deptford recently in the quest for the Sue Flynn Championship Trophy.

After more than 100 races were over, seven Tri-County records would be broken,
leaving multiple athletes with plenty to celebrate.

Sunnybrook Swim Club’s Christina Levins broke two records on the final day of the
championships, both as an individual, in the girl’s 15-18 50-meter breaststroke, and in a
relay event, in the girl’s 15-18 200-meter medley relay, alongside teammates Janey
Galski, Katerina Poulathas and Catie Shawaryn.

Levins, about to enter her junior year, has been with Sunnybrook for the past three
years, while also competing in the Tri-County Championships with other clubs for
approximately the past 10 years.

Despite having competed for many years, she says she was slightly nervous heading
into the meet due to being the youngest age in her age group.

“I was definitely nervous since I’m at the bottom of the age group – knowing I have to go
up against 18-year-olds,” said Levins. “But despite that, at the same time, we were pretty
confident with our rankings going in.”

Levins said she was excited to break both records for multiple reasons.

“The relay team has me and a few other 15-year-olds that just moved up, but it was also
exciting that we were able to break the record with a senior on the [relay] team for her
last year with us,” said Levins. “And then individually, it was also really exciting to have
broken the record so young, because hopefully I can just keep getting better.”

Meanwhile, Willowdale Swim Club’s Ryan Cortes also broke two meet records over the
weekend. About to enter his freshman year at Cherry Hill East, Cortes has been with
Willowdale for four seasons, having joined to find better competition and coaching.

Cortes went into the weekend looking forward to simply being able to compete the
hardest he possibly could.

“I want to win, but I don’t expect anything specific from myself,” said Cortes. “What I do
is what I do.”

Cortes broke the Tri-County record in the boys 13-14 100-meter I.M. with a time of
1:01.17, which was a race he knew would be a definite challenge going in.

“Well, I knew the I.M. would be a good challenge because I had Cole Jennings (from
Wenonah Swim Club) to race,” said Cortes. “I knew he was going to try to stick with me
for the first 50 meters and try to beat me in the breaststroke, because that’s my least
comfortable stroke and I’m not as efficient in it. My first 50 meters is my strongest; I
knew I had to go out fast and then hold in the breaststroke and then go out in the
freestyle to get that record. It was a hard record to get, I’m not going to lie.”

Additionally, Cortes was a part of the Willowdale team to break the 13-14 200-meter free
relay record, alongside teammates Alex Crumpton, Josh Seidman and Miller Whartenby,
with Cortes anchoring the race for the team.

“That was a very, very close race as well,” said Cortes. “I swim better when we’re a little
behind so I get a little of a rush. My team definitely did their job and their part.”

Host Green-Fields Swim Club hoisted the Sue Flynn Championship Trophy at the end of
the weekend, with a score 905.5 points, becoming the only club in Tri-County history to win the championship multiple times at its home club, doing so 1992 as well. Deer Brook
Swimming (742) and Pomona (657) followed behind in second and third place,
respectively.

Head coach Nancy Curtis says the coaches engrained the possibility of winning the
championship at home years ago.

“It had been in the back of my mind for about the last three years, because you have to
commit to hosting a championship a couple years out, there’s a lot of planning that goes
in to hosting the meet,” said Curtis. “At that point, remembering back to when we hosted
the last time and winning it as well, it planted the seed that wouldn’t it be great if we
could do that again?

“We talked to the kids at the beginning of the year and told them that this is a once-in-a-
lifetime opportunity to swim in your own pool and Tri-County, so lets get as many kids
qualified as we can,” said Curtis. “We ended up qualifying 65 kids, which is a rather large
number.”

Having been able to win the championship surrounded by current and former swimmers
from the community, some of whom helped accomplish the same feat 27 years ago, was
a surreal experience, according to Curtis.

“We have just such a wonderful team this year,” said Curtis. “Wonderful swimmers and
wonderful parents, and it all just came together.”