Boys Swimming: More on Upper Darby’s upset of Conestoga

If you’re looking for the first big surprise of the winter season, look no further than the Upper Darby boys swim team.

The Royals pulled a massive upset, delivering Conestoga its first loss in the Central League in three years with a 96-89 defeat. As far as the last time the Royals beat the Pioneers, well, no one really knows the answer to that, though coach Casey O’Hara reckons its before he started swimming at Upper Darby over a decade ago.

To be clear, Conestoga was weakened to a degree with 2012 District qualifiers Alex Schon, Michael Ashmead and Varun Kolluru all representing Upper Main Line YMCA at a meet this weekend. But for a team like Conestoga that has beaten so many teams by reputation alone for years, coming out and having the nerve to topple the giants is still a major accomplishment.

“We knew they were missing a few guys,” O’Hara said. “We knew it was possible, but I wasn’t ready to believe it. We knew (Conestoga) was very talented, but they are also very deep and that even with their top two or three guys out, we couldn’t count them out.”

A win like the Royals’ is hardly the product of just a couple of swims, so the winners only tell half the story. Senior captain John Mulholland, for example, won the 100 backstroke and led off the victorious 200 medley and freestyle relays, but O’Hara was also impressed by his second-place finish in the 200 individual medley, not to mention his leadership behind the scenes. Together with Greg Walters’ third-place finish in the 200 IM, the Royals scored an early and crucial event split.

Tom Brennan’s win in the 50 free was also crucial, as was the 1-2 finish in diving by Tim Durante and Alex Buchanan. But perhaps the most impressive event win was in the 500 free, a hallmark of the Conestoga and typically a boon for programs such as the Pioneers’ which boast vast stables of young talent. Though Stoga’s Chris Wang finished first, Andrew Karsh, Caleb Lehman and Darin Garner went 2-3-4 to take the total event score by two points.

The depth of the Royals was also apparent, as they managed to finish first and third in the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay.

50 thoughts on “Boys Swimming: More on Upper Darby’s upset of Conestoga

  1. It should be noted that the Conestoga boy’s team was missing far more than the three swimmers listed above: Alan Shen, Alex Schon, Brian Jay, Joshua Gordon, Lucas Fannucci, Mason Selig, Michael Ashmead, Raju Kolloru, and Waylon Jin.
    Among these names are four PIAA state qualifiers – three of which finaled and medaled at the meet last spring.
    “Missing a few guys” is an understatement to say the least with the Pioneers missing nearly a third of their swimmers – much more than having just “their top two or three guys out”.

      • It’s a shame you imply that competing, unavoidable commitments (which happen to have been avoided in the past) constitute “swimming for yourself.” The athletic department of Conestoga did not allow the meet to be changed because the swimmers were not attending a school-sponsored event. This has not been a problem in the past. While it is unfortunate for the administration to needlessly taint an impressive run of victories for one of the most quietly dominant teams in school history, it is equally lamentable that the facts have not been fully examined. It is a questionable win for UD at best, and a blatant injustice on many levels at worst.

  2. Lauding the “depth of the Royals” against a weakens squad seems a little tongue-in-cheek… Be respectful, you’re a small-time Internet paper.

    • It was a statement of fact that wasn’t written to be tongue-in-cheek…Be respectful, you’re a small-time Internet commenter.
      — MD

  3. As a swim parent, the Stoga coaches, Umly kids and parents should be ashamed of themselves for ditching their team to further themselves individually. Cudos to UD on the win!

    • “Ditching their team”? You clearly have no grasp on the commitment to swimming the Umly kids undertake–one that arises from a passion for the sport, not selfishness. Waterlogged112 has said it perfectly, the YMCA they swim for is among the top 3 TEAMS in the country. The meet is used to qualify for YMCA nationals, where they compete as a TEAM. In fact, over the last 2 championship meets, 3 national titles have been won by relay TEAMS. High School dual meet competition simply does not offer these opportunites, but if the kids did chose to just “ditch” their team, why bother to compete for your school at all?

      • Anon, the Conestoga athletic department requested a change to the meet date due to the fact that kids would be away. Don’t kid yourself. You make a choice to swim for the school or for the Y/Club team, and everyone knows that Y/Club competition is a more personal competition versus a team event like school meets. The Administration tainted nothing, the kids made a choice and that is not a criticism of that choice. UD competed against those that showed up and they won. Congrats to UD.

    • i have no understanding as to why anyone should feel ashamed. UMLY is still a team. it would be rather upsetting of many of UMLY’s swimmer’s didn’t show up, especially since the UMLY meet at George Mason College was planned and paid for far ahead one of many dual meets in the high school season. I do congratulate Upper Darby for their win because now Upper Darby is the only High school team in the league that could POSSIBLY be titled as undefeated now. Stoga boys will go undefeated from this point forward.

      No pride should be taken in a a this win. if one single more person would’ve showed up the meet would have been as good as over

  4. Mdegeorge you clearly know nothing about the club team those boys swim for. They do not swim for “themselves;” they swim for one of the top 3 YMCA teams in the country and are nationally ranked swimmers themselves. So going to this travel meet could give those boys an opportunity to qualify for US Nationals or equally elite championships. You can call it an upset but really the “depth of the royals” – Top UD time 500 free: 5:22.17, 200 free: 1:58.07, 100 Back: 1:00.28, 50 free: 23.09. That’s not depth, those times don’t even qualify for Districts. Granted Greg Walters’ 100 breast is a good time. Highlight him – not the depth of the whole team. UD won the meet (albeit barely), but they would lose horribly if they swam the whole team.

    • I know who they swim for. I even bothered to write it in the post, and I am plenty acquainted with UMLY’s success. And to be clear, I never said they were swimming for “themselves”. That’s was a commenter who introduced that phrase.
      The post was about the fact that the Upper Darby kids who were at the pool Friday night beat the Conestoga kids that were there. I’m sure this isn’t the first time Stoga has been without kids of those caliber, and I’m sure they didn’t lose all their high school meets in those situations. I’m just highlighting that Upper Darby has a win in the win column, which in my book is an accomplishment.
      MD

      • Actually, it is the first time in a very long time (certainly since before their fair-in-square 2009 loss to radnor) that stoga has been missing such a large proportion of their elite swimmers. The new Conestoga AD blocked a request by the head coach to move the meet to a later date, as has been the procedure in the past. This meet the Y kids attended (and attend annually) has never been an issue before.

      • so its an accomplishment, not an “upset”, as you stated in the article and (made a point to highlight) in the title.

    • Times? In the first meet? I’ll bet those swimmers that competed in those events make Districts in those same events. Perhaps these swimmers compete in other sports in the fall and are just getting into shape for swimming. And UD won, I don’t ever recall the record book saying “barely” next to the W L columns.

      • If these swimmers compete in other sports in the fall, why are they out of shape? They should already have cardiovascular fitness, so they just need to get their feel for the water back. This would have already happened even for a Districts-caliber athlete

    • You all sound like a bunch of poor sports. Get over yourselves.
      Most HS swim coaches tell you from day one…’ your HS team comes 1st’.
      If you choose to not to attend your HS meet then stop whining. These comments you all are making are devaluing the commitment everyone has made for themselves. You are not only putting down the other team, you are also putting down YOUR OWN TEAM mates who made it to the UD meet. Team mates who I am sure work very hard in the pool and classroom.

  5. Tom Smith, as the swim parent you consider yourself to be, you should understand that there is more to the sport then a high school dual meet. Conestoga’s team consists of swimmers who respect that, and realize that the countless hours of work they put in, need to be paid off in success at high caliber meets. As a member of both teams, i can promise you, that none of the UMLY swimmers and parents are ashamed of making the right choice. Conestoga’s coaches, swimmers and parents (actual swim parents) realize that there is more to the sport of swimming then dual meets. If you were a real swim parent, one that cares about their child’s performance, you would do the same thing.

    • Swimswag, based on your post, I am glad I am not considered a “swim parent”. I have kids that swim, they perform very well but I would never put myself in the category of caring about whether they get “payment” for their work. I bet you take a watch to meets.

      • may I ask whether your children swim for intense clubs? You may not care for your childrens swimming but your children hopefully do. If your child does swim for a club its a shame that a parent would not want to motivate their child by telling them “you worked hard so try your hardest” instead of not caring.

      • Delco Swimming Sucks…(Nice handle by the way, very intelligent) My kids swim in a very competitive environment and have for many years. I can put into an appropriate context my children’s swimming. They get out of it what they put into it and that is what I teach them to expect. I never said I don’t care. What I won’t do is try to live vicariously through my children like I have watched many, many “swim parents” do at the “intense” clubs where my children have competed. I don’t carry a watch, I don’t scold them for underperforming nor do I ask them, “what was that?” when they don’t win a race. I have watched parents do that for years and frankly, it’s a joke. My kids understand that motivation and success comes from within. If they don’t have it, no amount of my encouragement or motivation is going to change that. My kids know they need to be open to coaching, to suggestions from qualified professionals and to understand that what they do today may or may not make them successful tomorrow. Fortunately, my children have learned those lessons and are strong enough and smart enough to understand that fact.

      • As a collegiate athlete that swam both for UMLY and CHS all four years of high school, it saddens me to see you do not value the same kind of support my parents were able to give me in my swimming career. I too have seen “swim parents” in the bleachers and trying to coach their children. However, these parents are not “many” as you claim – they are far and few, noticeable only because they are not the norm for a team like UMLY – one that is closer than biological family. The team is all about supporting and encouraging one another – not scolding for underperformance, as you seem to suggest.

        I appreciate the fact that you do not scold your children, but I also worry that you do not value and appreciate ALL of their swims as markers for their progress as athletes. There’s nothing wrong with carrying a stopwatch. My own mother carried a watch to keep track of my splits during my races in high school meets, state championships, and even US Nationals. I asked her to do this. She was not timing me to be able to tear me down after a “bad” race – for me, there was no such thing. She never scolded me for “not winning” – for as any serious swimmer knows, it’s not about “winning,” but about trying your hardest and getting something out of the race. Each race was a learning experience and a dress rehearsal for my biggest meets. It disturbs me that you don’t seem to even care enough about your children’s swimming to watch them and get a time on them, even privately to be proud of the progress they make throughout the season. I also am worried about how you might even classify your children’s or other swimmer’s times as “under-performing”.

        I also appreciate the fact that you have taught your children to be motivated on their own. However, in as physically, emotionally, and mentally draining a sport as swimming, it is your duty as a parent to be behind your children every step of the way, encouraging them to believe in the impossible even when they themselves are ready to give up. As I finished dead-last in pretty much every race up until age thirteen, I never dreamed I would one day be a nationally-ranked athlete, one of the top recruits in the country, and swimming for one of the best Division-One colleges in the US. There were times I thought I should quit and focus on other sports. But my parents, my coaches, and my teammates at the Upper Main Line believed in me. They made me realize it was all worth it WITHOUT pressuring me to stay. They were my family – they supported me every step of the way, picking me up when I was down or injured, always bringing a smile to my face. I couldn’t let them down. The bond of UMLY is unlike any other kind of team I have every experienced. They truly are a family, not just a group of kids or friends swimming side-by-side each day. They have gone through hope, joy, sacrifice and loss together. It is not just a team at UMLY, but a lifestyle and a place to learn more about yourself and your values. Your children should have to be “strong enough” to endure the lessons of life experienced through swimming alone – you should have their back.

      • The boys on these teams make a choice every single day of their lives that set them apart from their peers – very few other sports demand such a commitment in the lives of the athletes as swimming does. The fact the swimmers of the Y and the club teams represented at Conestoga choose to participate in their school programs, in addition to their training at their respective teams, should be commended – not scorned as you have done.

        The athletes gathered on the Conestoga swim team are not only some of the best in the area, but in the country, and have traditionally been so. In just the past few years, Conestoga continued on to compete at the national level, as well as internationally in such competitions as the FINA World Cup. This would never be possible without the support and training they receive from their clubs in addition to their schools.

        To say that “everyone knows that Y/Club competition is a more personal competition versus a team event like school meets” is wrong, and frankly an insult to those that train and compete with these programs. These teams – the Upper Main Line YMCA especially – function not as a team, but as a family. The athletes care for one another’s success as much, or even more, than their own. They spend countless hours of their life training, traveling, competing, supporting, and helping one another succeed. I encourage those who have not witnessed it to observe a YMCA National meet. There are few other environments in all of sports where such a family atmosphere can be felt – to see more than 40 athletes from a team gathered behind the lane of a single swimmer, cheering, yelling, even crying for the athlete is something special that I have yet to see anywhere else in the world of sporting.

        Swimming is not an individual sport. The way we work together does not allow it to be one, and as a swimmer myself, I am glad. The people I train, travel, and compete with are my family. If it weren’t for my teammates, my coaches, and the parents who helped me get to the level I am at, swimming would never have been much more than just a summer activity. Now it is an integral part of my life – one that I cannot imagine living day-to-day without. In many ways, swimming defines me and has shaped me as a person; no selfish or individualistic sport could have done this in the way swimming has. At the Y, our clubs, and most importantly at ‘Stoga, we are a team – we are a community. I pity those within the sport who feel it is anything less than this.

      • I never asked what kind of parent your are nor do i care i only asked whether or not your children swam at intense clubs because to me it seemed you didnt care. You say that there are many parents who carry a watch to meets and yell at their kids when they perform poorly, but thats not the case. I see very few parents do this and just like you i do not agree with their approach. As for motivation and success coming from within…. thats partially true. Im not saying that motivation comes froms yelling and scolding, but it does come from acknowledgement. Sure, children often do not care for their parents words, but if coaches and peers see that they are putting in the hard work they too will acknowledge and support them. With this much amount of support, there is no doubt that any child would want to continue and strive to work harder.

    • Nah, I shouldn’t have been mentioned very much. I’m really not very impressive. Kay Zhang is clearly better than me. He should be mentioned in this article.

  6. You talk about not having a “grasp” on the concept of swimming? In the past there have been plenty of other swimmers who were apart of more then just their high school team. Last year, a swimmer went to Olympic Trails over the summer. You think he didn’t have every opportunity to go to any other meet and skip out on a high school dual meet? Trust me, he did, but he never attended them because he did not want to let his team down. Stop complaining. Face the facts. Upper Darby Men’s swimming and diving beat Conestoga. It is time to move past this and continue with the regular season.

    • Actually, both Nic Graesser AND Shane Ryan missed multiple meets for Junior Nationals, Senior champs, etc. but there is a relatively thick line between selfishness and betterment; neither of these boys did not care for their team or school (both were team captains) but they were given an opportunity to qualify for and compete in the US Olympic trials, which happens to be the fastest long course meet top to bottom in the world, considerably deeper than the Olympics. Given that opportunity, each and every coach and teammate of those boys supported their choice to attend and focus on trials.

      • @ NO, please do not refer to Shane Ryan, as missing multiple meets. He only missed one last year against Springfeild. He always cared very much about his teams, Haverford, RAC & Lawrence Park SC. He gave up many opportunities, including to swim @ bigger USA Meets to swim for his team’s. (Senior Champs is after the Reg. season.) He was voted by his team mates as Team Captain for a reason. He was voted by the Coaches of the Central League as Central League Swimmer of the Year, for a reason & it wasn’t just b/c he could swim fast.

        More then a few times has he lost & I always thought it was good for a person’s character to do so. It only makes them come back and work harder. Sometimes it is not always who is the best swimmer but who is best on THAT day @ THAT praticular moment & MOST OF ALL, WHO SHOWS UP! UD showed up THAT day, when some of them are also “Y” swimmers & could have choosen to go to that other meet. In life we have choices, then have to deal with the outcome, whatever that may be.

        I have been lucky enough to Coach some of the Stoga kids & they are great swimmers but the same is true of the UD kids. Greg Walters got up @ 5:30am in the Summer to practice with RAC, not mention the all of the other practices he has attented. Same for his team mates. So instead of nit picking on here, as hard as it may be for some to do, PLEASE parents & Student Athletes, just simply Congratulate UD on THEIR win & move on.
        Best Luck to ALL of the swimmers!

  7. With all due respect, Delco Swimming, you don’t know what you are talking about. It is ignorant and insulting to claim the YMCA environment is less of a team than a high school team. If you truly believe this to be so, I ask you to tell me why you think so.
    As for your opinion that one can only swim for club or school, I would like to direct your attention to last years central league meet results. Every central league champion on both the men and women’s side except for the men’s 50 freestyle swam for a club outside of school.

    • Actually I do know what I am talking about. Read and comprehend. When the meets are at the same time, you swim for one or the other, you can’t be at both. Can a swimmer compete for multiple teams? Most certainly as my children have at times been on three teams at the same time, one being the Y team. As for a team environment of the YMCA vs a high school team, it really depends on the participants, the coaches, and the parents. My kids have been in the pool in competitive environments since the age of 6. The Y programs promote a team environment but only to a point. Swimming by nature is very individualistic and the Y programs focus on that fact much more significantly that the typical high school programs.

  8. I don’t understand how this is an upset. Conestoga was missing a third of their team. In essence, their swimmers had only swim for a summer league team plus a few that swim at Radnor Aquatic Club. It is hardly an accomplishment for an average to above average high school swim team to beat a team made up mostly of swimmers who swim one season out of the year. To go as far as to say it is an upset is entirley unwarranted.

    • Are you saying your team mates from the summer league and Radnor Aquatic Club suck? Shame on you!! Your coaches, Conestoga and UMLY should be embarrassed by this statement. Who says these things?

  9. It’s a shame Upper Darby parents and swimmers believe that a HIgh School dual meet is the be all end all for swimming.

    The reason they don’t get it is because their Y team is an absolute joke. You can’t even mention their team in the same breath as UMLY. It’s a world of difference.

    When some of you get a clue about swimming than feel free to comment on here. Until then please keep your thoughts to yourself.

    • Swim Fan, no parents or UD swimmers said or believe that the win over Conestoga was the be all end all. And for you to somehow equate that victory to a comparison of Y teams really baffles the mind. Is it because some of the same kids compete? They are 2 totally different teams??? Until you understand the basic rules of debate, please keep your inane comments on the UMLY fan page.

      • Can you please stop trying to act so mature? Almost all of the people commenting on this article are angry swimmers and I’m one of them. For an adult to come back every single day to continuously share his thoughts on something that mainly teenagers are arguing about is insane. Maybe one or two comments, not 8.

  10. The bottom line:

    A) Coach Tyrone and the men’s team got shafted by the Conestoga Athletic Director who doesn’t care about the swim team (never has, probably never will).
    B) The Boys team are still the powerhouse in the Central League. Bring on a re-match any day and the Stoga boys will show you whats up
    C) We are Tyrone’s kids. Always have, always will be. Deal wit it

  11. SwimFan, please keep Landsdowne’s YMCA team out of this, as a member of UMLY and Conestoga’s team, i am good friends with many of the swimmers there. You can mention their team in the same breath, when you talk about ymca friendship. I agree with your first statement, but thats it. Landsdowne may not have as much talent and depth that as UMLY, but they were still a strong representation at nationals, so have some respect for the swimmers there.

      • It is more than many YMCA’s across the country are able to send. Please leave Lansdowne out of this. I assure you UMLY swimmers do not see themselves as superior to any other program in the Y community – in fact, many of us are good friends with swimmers from other teams and enjoy seeing them and competing against them.
        Please respect all teams equally, especially when they have had no voice in this matter.

  12. Clearly, it is too much to ask for PARENTS to be happy for the youth of swimming. These boys went out there, and put their hearts into each and every race on December 7th. And you all cannot simply put aside your own ignorance and let these swimmers be proud of their accomplishment? Shame on all of you. Whatever happened to “Let the swimming do the talking.” On December 7, 2012, Upper Darby boys swimming and diving WAS BETTER than Conestoga.

  13. I will keep this short, as I feel the point has already been made blatantly clear:

    The Conestoga coaches do not tell their swimmers that that school swimming comes first – in fact the Stoga girl’s swimming coach’s own daughter was not at the UD meet because she was out of state with her club team swimming at a high-level competition. They advocate what will best help their swimmers, be it through the highschool program or outside of it. That is all.

    The Conestoga boy’s team was missing a third of their athletes – club swimmers or not, this is a serious hit to a team’s ability to perform. It took away, at the least, 22 swims from Conestoga.

    Those countering commenters such as yourself have not been poor sports. This thread started simply to point out the understatement of Conestoga’s disadvantage going into the meet, yet was turned into an unmerited attack against club and Y programs and the athletes that are a part of them.

    Please stop commenting. Please stop trying to instigate debate and belittle the swimmers and their parents, coaches, and programs that they compete for and train with.

    This matter is closed, and the season will progress as it already has begun to.

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