Motivated by not being able to participate last season and defend their championships, the Bishop O’Connell Knights got what they very much wanted this winter.
The private school’s girls and boys swimming and diving teams each won the recent Northern Virginia Catholic Invitational competitions. The O’Connell girls were first with 410 points over runner-up Paul VI Catholic with 361. The O’Connell boys finished on top with 442, with Paul VI second (417).
The meet was held last season, but O’Connell was not allowed to take part because of COVID.
“That was very hard to hand those trophies over to other teams last season,” O’Connell coach Beth Baker said. “The memory of that disappointment drove us so much to set goals to win both titles again this year. Paul VI gave us a run for our money. It was very thrilling until the end.”
Baker said the keys to the victories for both teams was the overall depth of the relays and having so many swimmers and divers score points in individual events.
“The great thing about this meet is it allowed for a lot of swimmers to participate, and that reallly helped us,” Baker said.
The O’Connell girls were led by senior captain Kate Bailey. She won two races, swam on relays and was chosen as the Swimmer of the Meet. That was the second straight competition she received such an award.
Bailey won 50 freestyle in 24.59 seconds and the 100 backstroke (57.85). Bailey will swim in college at the University of Pittsburgh.
O’Connell’s Caroline Mullin also won two races, the 200 free (1:59.7) and 500 free (5:25.01) and swam on relays.
Patricia Leonard won the 100 butterfly (59.36) and was third in the 100 breaststroke. The 400 free relay, with Bailey on the lead leg, won in 3:42.53.
In girls diving, O’Connell’s Madison Cervenak was first with Emma Webb second and Helen King third.
The O’Connell girls won seven races and had four seconds and thirds.
The Knights’ Ellie Leonard was second in the breast and third in the fly and Carlin Smittle took third in the 500 free and fourth in the 200 free.
Among other top-10 swimming finishers for the O’Connell girls were Cervenak, Lia Gauthier, Claire Thompson, Ella Smith, Kaitlin St. Pierre, Piper Buswell, Kate Burns and Sydney Smith. Two other relays placed second.
The O’Connell boys won three races, with the 400 free relay first in 3:21.89 and the medley relay winning in 1:42.82.
Individually, Chris Kinsella won the 100 free (49.65) and was second in the 50 free.
Second were Kevin Carchia (500 free), Brendan Mullen (200 individual medley and back), Kaden Carpenter (breast) and the 200 free relay.
Third were David Kinsella (breast), Ben Ogletree (500 free), James Piland (IM) and Liam Hickey (back).
Thomas Sullivan, Ryan Krauss, James Miller, James Hardenburgh and James Milligan were other top-10 finishers.
In boys diving, Will Zimmeman was sixth and Joseph Nixon seventh.
NOTE: Griffin Morche is an assistant coach for O’Connell and a former summertime swimmer for Chesterbrook pool in McLean, where he’s also an assistant coach. Baker used to be Overlee’s head coach in Arlington and now is an assistant with the team. The two Division 1 Northern Virginia Swimming League summer teams are huge and sometimes intense rivals. “How’s that for getting along? Overlee and Chesterbrook working together, and it’s going swimmingly,” Baker said. “Who would have thought.”