Pirates Lose Championship for the First Time in Three Years
By Annique Wong and Grace Lu
With their first loss to Brooklyn Tech a week ago at Opens still fresh in their minds, the atmosphere at Lehman College was very tense for the Pirates. They had dominated PSAL swimming for three years, but never recalled such nervousness before a meet. Prior to the Pirates’ reign, Brooklyn Tech had always held the championship title, but none of the current Pirates had been present at that time. After the graduation of 12 seniors and the loss the Stuyvesant pool, this championship meet on Thursday, February 14 tested the Pirates’ strength through such obstacles.
Seeded first by the PSAL bracket, it was clear that the Pirates expected a repeat of last year’s title. Excitement, however, soon turned to frustration after a disappointing second place finish in the first event, the 200-yard medley relay. Though junior Brandon Koo’s starting backstroke leg was one of the fastest he’d swum all season, it was not enough to keep the Pirates afloat.
After a string of third and fourth place finishes, Stuyvesant fell further behind Brooklyn Tech. Finally, senior David Jiang scored first in the 50-yard freestyle, but the win was tempered by junior Kevin Lee’s last place finish—the Pirates failed to gain any leverage, and as they grew increasingly worried, Brooklyn Tech continued to power through. Even after junior Michael Lim claimed an automatic win and four points for Stuyvesant with the seven dives he performed, the Pirates were still behind 24-14.
Though anxious, the Pirates still hoped to make a break in the second half of the meet. This plan proved futile after more third and fourth place finishes and agonizingly close races, including the 100-yard butterfly. Senior Edmund Zhan seemed to be ahead at the 75-yard mark, but as he raced through the last five yards, the Brooklyn Tech swimmers finished strong into the wall, leaving Zhan out-touched in third place.
Their hopes diminished again as the swimmers’ calm exteriors gave way to frustration, especially at the end of the 500-yard freestyle, swam by freshman Aaron Glas and sophomore Andrew Guo. Despite setting new personal records by over five seconds, they finished second and fourth, respectively.
It was not until the 200-yard freestyle relay when some Pirates began to murmur that they would not win it all. After starting off behind, Jiang gave Lee a small lead, but Lee was still out-touched by .11 seconds, after which he pushed himself out of the water and slammed his towel into the bleachers. “Our work ethic is in the trash can. Only half the team showed up to practice,” Lee said. “That relay was really winnable, but some of us just didn’t show up.”
Nearing the last event, the Pirates kept the atmosphere light and cheered on those swimming, even though they knew it was impossible to win. Coach Peter Bologna put swimmers who hadn’t swum yet on the last relay, not to give up but to accept reality, as the Pirates lost 58-40. “We knew that we couldn’t win,” Bologna said. “So I got kids in so they could have the playoff and finals experience, especially the seniors who never would get to swim with us again.”
Choking up, seniors and co-captains Steven Chu and Brian Chen agreed that the senior Pirates have no regrets regarding their season. “The Pirates have been just a big part of my life,” Chen said. “There would be such a high school career for me if it wasn’t for the Pirates, and I couldn’t ask for more.”
Other seniors were also appreciative for their time on the team. “I think that the program that Coach [Bologna] has here is very comprehensive,” Zhan said. “He’s a great coach, and I thank him and respect him a lot for what he’s done for me.”
Jiang, who has broken a PSAL record for the 100-yard breaststroke—a record that hasn’t been broken for many years—was also grateful for his experience with the Pirates. “I made a bunch of new friends that I know I will stay in touch with throughout college and hopefully beyond,” Jiang said. “[I’ve been] inspired to start working harder and eventually reach a higher level of swimming.”
The seniors all look to support their younger teammates through their loss, and have hope for upcoming years. “In no way was this a bad meet. [Brooklyn Tech] had the better swimmers, but that could always change, and next year, I expect our swimmers to swim over the summer and bring back home the trophy, “Chu said. “To see them throw their towels and shed every tear just shows me that they care, and that’s all I can ever ask for.”
19-Year Winning Streak Broken as Brooklyn Tech Sets the Tone for Championships
By Jason Lee, Christopher Kim, and Eric Morgenstern
The Stuyvesant Pirates are rarely challenged by a team as adept and fast as they are. However, the situation reversed at the PSAL Swimming and Diving Championships on Sunday, February 10. Stuyvesant finished second out of 21 schools, losing to Brooklyn Tech 382.5 to 344. Though senior David Jiang broke the PSAL record for the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 57.64 seconds, the remaining Pirates failed to finish first in any of the other twelve events.
A big reason for Stuyvesant’s defeat rested upon the Brooklyn Tech Engineers’ dominance in all three relays: the mixed 200-yard medley relay, the mixed 200-yard freestyle relay, and the mixed 400-yard freestyle relay. The Pirates failed to place even second in the 200-yard relays, and despite reaching second in the 400-yard relay, they were full seconds behind. However, Brooklyn Tech’s skill did not comes as a surprise for Physical Education teacher and boys’ swimming coach Peter Bologna.
“We knew we had a slim chance to win because when we saw the numbers that Brooklyn Tech was putting up this year, they had some very talented swimmers,” Bologna said.
The pressure of maintaining a 19-year winning streak has definitely taken its toll on the Pirates for the Championship meet on Thursday, February 14. “I’d say it caused more pressure on the returners than on the rookies at first, but eventually the rookies learned what being a defending champion meant and acted accordingly. So yes, there was some extra pressure because we have always been the best and people expect us to be on top,” senior and co-captain Brian Chen said.
Despite the Pirates’ second-place finish, they are still determined to bring home the team championship against Brooklyn Tech at the City Championships. Even though he knows to expect the same ferocity from the Brooklyn Tech Engineers on Thursday, Bologna remains optimistic in ruining their chances at a sweep. “We can definitely improve on making sure that we do the little things correctly to try and upset them on Thursday,” Bologna said.
Pirates Advance to City Championships
By: Annique Wong and Grace Lu
In their second playoff game, Stuyvesant’s boys’ swimming team proved their superiority over the Bronx High School of Science in a setting other than the academic. On Tuesday, February 5, the Pirates won first place in every event except the 400 freestyle relay against the Bronx Science Wolverines for a score of 59-34, propelling them to the Division A Championships against Brooklyn Tech on Saturday, February 9.
From the first blow of the horn, the Pirates charged straight for the finish line. The A team, composed of juniors Bryan Chu, Brandon Koo, and Kevin Lee and senior Edmund Zhan, captured first place, while the Pirates’ B Team, made up of sophomores Andrew Guo, Victor Gaitour, Denis Valyuk, and Kevin Kan, snagged second. These wins, which were by margins of over 10 seconds, catapulted the Pirates ahead by nine points.
There were, however, some incredibly close events. The 200 freestyle was a very close win by freshman Peter Strbik, who beat out second place Wolverine Michael Knapp by 12 hundredths of a second. The 200 individual medley, swum by junior Glib Dolotov and freshman Daniel Gutman, followed in a similar fashion. Despite a scare from Wolverine Josef Sarabia during the last 25 yards, the Pirates ultimately came out victorious, with Dolotov and Gutman touching first and second respectively. Though Dolotov placed first in both of his events, he wasn’t completely content with the outcome of the heat. “I feel good [about winning], but it was really too close. I’ll be focusing on the nitpicky details of swimming [before finals] by trying to improve turns, drilling as much as possible, and resting up,” Dolotov said.
The Wolverines were not the only competitors at the pool with the Pirates, though. Occurring simultaneously was the other semifinal meet, between Brooklyn Technical High School and Staten Island Technical High School, in which the Brooklyn Tech Engineers clinched the ticket to the city championships with a score of 54-44. “It’s going to be a very good meet at finals. I’ve done research, I knew that they [the Engineers] were a very fast team—a very talented team, and I hope that finals will be close.”
Regardless of the outcome against the Brooklyn Tech Engineers, the Pirates look back on their season with pride. “This team, even when my co-captain and I leave, has the potential to be something much more than what any of the past years have been. No matter the outcome, I know my team will hold their heads up high walking out,” senior and co-captain Steven Chu said.
Pirates Set Records in First Round Victory
By: Annique Wong and Grace Lu
Extending their 19-year streak as Division A champions, the Stuyvesant Pirates clinched this year’s first playoff win against the Francis Lewis Patriots on Friday, February 1, propelling themselves into the second round with a score of 55-38 and new personal records.
Despite their ultimate victory, the Pirates were slow in building up their momentum. The 200-yard freestyle, which was the meet’s second race, is an event in which freshman Aaron Glas typically places first. However, even with a new personal best of 1:59.75, Glas fell to second place. The 200-yard freestyle was followed by another second-place finish in the 200-yard individual medley, which was swum for the first time by freshman Peter Strbik. Though these setbacks were initially costly, the Pirates were still able to tie with the Patriots at 25 points apiece by the fifth event, the 100-yard butterfly. From then on, the Pirates surged past the Patriots, clinching first and second place finishes in both the 100-yard and the 500-yard freestyles. With times of 5:43.42 and 5:47.51 from freshman Jonathan Liu and senior and co-captain Brian Chen respectively in the 500-yard freestyle, both were happy to have broken their personal records.
With the PSAL Division A Championships and City Championships looming around the corner, the Pirates are continuing to practice and improve their performances in races. Taking lessons from this particular meet against the Patriots, the Pirates have noted the importance of touching the wall faster at the conclusion of a race. In both the 200-yard freestyle and in the 100-yard butterfly, Glas and senior Edmund Zhan were both out-touched by merely 22 milliseconds.
Fully aware of the issues the Pirates have in the pool, Chen plans on having his teammates work on “turns, touching, and tapering to maximize our talents,” he said.
Looking past even their next playoff game against the Bronx High School of Science, the Pirates have their eyes on maintaining their status as City Champions against Brooklyn Technical High School. “Tech’s team is stacked this year,” physical education teacher and coach Peter Bologna said. “There is always pressure to win because we’re expected to win since we’re Stuyvesant and we’ve done it numerous amounts of times.”