Penguins Fall to Bronx Science
October 28th, 2004
In one of the traditionally most competitive and exciting meets of the season, the Stuyvesant girls’ swimming team, the Penguins, were defeated by archrival Bronx Science last Friday afternoon at the Stuyvesant pool. The final score of 69-33, however, doesn’t accurately depict the superb performance of the Penguins, as many of the girls made the cuts for the Open Championship, and junior Vivian Healey broke her own record for Stuyvesant girls’ 100-yard freestyle.
Because this meet was so important regarding divisional play (Stuyvesant and Bronx Science have been the top two teams in the Bronx-Manhattan division for the past four years), the Penguins stepped up their practice from last week. “We’ll increase our yardage by another 500 yards, doing a total of 4,000 yards per practice,” said senior and co-captain Maria Cheung a week before the meet.
The rivalry between the two schools can be described as perennially competitive, heated, and occasionally controversial (especially after an infamous Student Union Video Homeroom incident involving a Bronx Science diver). However, the rivalry was subdued Friday, despite occasional signs and posters of a slightly provocative nature. The signs made by Stuyvesant said “Sushi,” alluding to Bronx Science’s team, the Fishies. On the other side, the Fishies had signs proclaiming “We love to eat Penguin meet.” On this subject, Healey said, “Personally, I’m friends with a bunch of the girls on the Science team, and while it’s good to have a strong rivalry and a respected competitor, it would be nice if we could all get along a little better.”
This meet, however, was decided by pure swimming, which was undoubtedly abundant. Healey, as expected, delivered with first place finishes in the 200-yard freestyle, in addition to her record-setting performance in the 100-yard freestyle. However, these were the only first place finishes for Stuyvesant on Friday. Senior and co-captain Maria Cheung said, “They were really great, and I don’t think they could have done any better than they have. They all did their absolute best, and I’m really proud of them.”
Some of the members on the team have shown much improvement this season. Sophomore Liana Passantino shaved approximately 30 seconds off of her best time last year, at the first meet of the season against LaGuardia. She continued the pattern Friday, posting a personal-best 6:31:61, four seconds faster than her previous time. Furthermore, junior Mollie Miller had a successful 200-yard individual medley, with a time of 2:30:55. But the Penguins are not content just to break a few records. “I expect there to be a great many more personal records being broken,” said senior and co-captain Anne Mohan.
Bronx Science has 43 members on their team this year, as opposed to Stuyvesant’s 26. This disparity gives Bronx Science a distinct advantage—their swimmers are not as tired because they do not have to swim in as many events. In addition, “A huge portion of their girls swim year-round. We only have 2 year-round swimmers,” said Coach Silvana Choy. Year-round swimmers swim in club teams during the off-season in addition to their school teams and as a result are more conditioned.
Another drawback for the Penguins was their scheduling. Cheung said, “The Stuyvesant-Bronx Science meet is usually scheduled towards the end of October, which allows us to see how well the Bronx Science team is each year. With this, we can usually plan our lineups with more knowledge.”
However, the Penguins were able to overcome these same problems to defeat LaGuardia High School on October 1. LaGuardia is an unknown as Stuyvesant did not swim against them last season and LaGuardia has a deep roster of 32 swimmers. Yet the Penguins were able to defeat LaGuardia by a score of 52-45 and Stuy took first place in seven out of the twelve events, including diving.
Team spirit was evident in both the LaGuardia and Bronx Science meets. “We had everyone up and cheering for all their teammates, whether or not they were swimming in official lanes. We have some super-spirited girls on the team, and Mollie [Miller], Maya [Steward], and Anne [Mohan] really led us through some great cheers,” said Healey.
The Penguins are like a second family for the girls, who have trained together since late August, two and a half hours a day, five days a week.