Vineland's Johnny Malatesta leads swimmers to watch at Cape-Atlantic League championships
In case you missed some of the top area swimming meets this season, you have one last chance today at Atlantic City High School to see the leading competitors all at once.
The 15th annual Frank Forde Cape-Atlantic League Individual Swimming Championships features the fastest boys and girls swimmers in the CAL competing in 11 high school races. Start time is 4 p.m. at Atlantic City's eight-lane, 25-meter pool. There is no team scoring.
Each race is a timed final, and there will be two or three heats in each event in boys and girls swimming.
Vineland's Johnny Malatesta won the 100 butterfly last year at the CAL event in 1 minute, 1.10 seconds. He also swam the backstroke in the 200 medley relay and won in 1:54.79 with teammates Michael Ruberti, Eddie Parks and Mark Novatorskiy. All four returned this year.
"The relays are definitely our main focus," said Malatesta, a 17-year-old junior from Vineland. "The best part of relays is that you depend on each other. You all have to have good swims, and you don't want to let your guys down."
The CAL individual boys meet was dominated last year by St. Augustine Prep brothers Jeff and Pat Flynn, who became The Press Co-Boys Swimmers of the Year. Jeff has graduated, but Pat is now a senior.
Last year, Pat Flynn won the 200 freestyle and came back about 10 minutes later to win the next event, the 200 individual medley.
Other 2012 boys winners return today, including Atlantic City's Thien Le, who won the 100 backstroke, Egg Harbor Township's Anthony Czar, who took the 400 freestyle, and Absegami's James Brown, who was first in the 100 breaststroke.
Brown became the first Absegami swimmer ever to win a race at the CAL meet, edging Mainland Regional's Chris McClintock by 0.06 seconds.
"It's definitely going to be fun," said Brown, an 18-year-old Galloway Township senior. "It's really going to be tough, with Chris McClintock, (Oakcrest's) George Schieder and (Atlantic City's) Carson Rau in the (100 breaststroke) race. It's pretty much the same contenders in the IM (Brown's other event)."
The CAL meet is only five days after the South Jersey Interscholastic Swimming Association Coaches' Invitational last Saturday at Gloucester County Institute of Technology. The two meets are similar, with outstanding swimmers competing in each event.
As usual, the CAL showed its strength at the coaches' meet as St. Augustine won the boys Division A (large schools) team title for the ninth straight time. Atlantic City took the girls Division A crown. Ocean City won its second straight girls Division B team championship.
Absegami sophomore Emily Barnard finished fourth in the 200 freestyle and third in the 100 freestyle in Division A at the coaches' meet. As a freshman last year, Barnard was second in the CAL meet in the 200 freestyle.
"My training is the same for (the Coaches' and the CAL) meets, and they're both really exciting," said Barnard, 15, of Galloway Township. "It's hard and a challenge, but it's fun with so many fast swimmers in the race."
CAL meet girls winners from last year who return today are Ocean City's Noel Styer (50 freestyle) and Rachel Chain (100 backstroke), Atlantic City's Melissa Toy (100 freestyle) and Dominique Voso (400 freestyle), and Vineland's Rachel Bernhardt (100 breaststroke).
A.C.'s Colleen Callahan chose to swim only relays last year, but won both freestyle relays with Voso, Ayana Cox and Toy. All will swim today, and Vikings freshman Amber Glenn (a coaches' meet winner Saturday in the 500 freestyle) should have a big impact too.
The event honors the late Forde, a longtime official who often refereed the CAL meet.
Dive Meet on Friday at EHT
The Frank Forde Cape-Atlantic League Individual Diving Championships is set for 4 p.m. Friday at Egg Harbor Township High School. The six-dive meet also has the CAL's best. Jenna Santora of Mainland Regional won her second straight girls title last year with a score of 222.55. Atlantic City's Logan McHenry took the boys crown with a total of 229.75.
Santora has dominated CAL girls diving this season. McHenry has won the most league boys meets this winter and also took first in the South Jersey Coaches' Division A 6-Dive Meet.
Contact Guy Gargan:
Cape-Atlantic League Individual Swimming Championships
When: 4 p.m. today
Where: Atlantic City High School