The Penguins’ Season In Review

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Issue 6, Volume 112

By Leah D'Silva 

The Penguins, Stuyvesant’s girls’ swimming and diving team, have officially ended a successful season, having won every regular season meet and advancing to the league finals. While they did not win the final meet of the season, the Penguins still rank as second best in the city and are fired up to take back the title next year.

The Penguins were the defending champions prior to the new season, having secured the title of Best in the City for the last four consecutive years and securing several before that. Needless to say, the team wanted to maintain their winning streak. However, the year began with some uncertainty for this nearly-undefeated team. Senior and co-captain Alina Dufenyuk explained, “The returning girls had a bleak outlook on how the season would go since we did not have many standout swimmers try out.”

After the cancellation of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were very few upperclassmen left on the team, with only four seniors on the 35 member roster this year: swimmers Dufenyuk, Eliza Knapp, and Isabelle Yaremenko, and diver Agatha Nyarko. Dufenyuk herself could not even race in several of the later meets of the season, due to a knee injury that kept her out of the pool. The captains were nervous not only because of the lack of experience the swimmers had since two grades had never swum at the high school level before but also because of a coaching change, with the loss of long-time Coach Silvana Choy in favor of Coach Alan Zhu from Millennium High School.

Despite these initial concerns, the girls pulled off an impressive undefeated regular season, with significant time drops for each teammate. In order to get their team to this point, the whole team had to consistently practice and stay motivated. “Along with support from each other and incredible coaching from Coach Zhu, we went through many grueling practices and made sure the team took each meet as seriously as possible, even if our opponent was noticeably slower than us, and when you go into a race with that kind of mentality you’re bound to win,” Dufenyuk explained. Several swimmers made standout impressions, including co-captain Knapp, who broke the one-minute mark for the 100-yard butterfly, cruising in at 59.73 seconds and grabbing the state cut at one of their home meets. Similarly, junior Lindsey Wong swam an impressive 26.76-second 50-yard freestyle, senior Yarmenko snagged a 1:03.20 100-yard backstroke, and sophomore Lisia Edwards swam a 1:02.39 100-yard butterfly. Nyarko placed top two in every diving event at the meets this season, earning the Penguins valuable points.

While the team had strong on-paper accomplishments after a nearly perfect record over the course of the season, there was also a strong support system for these swimmers throughout. “We did a lot of team bonding and got to know each other really well. Every day everyone came to practice ready to swim their best and the sheer volume of cheering was insane for the super close races,” Knapp said. The captains reported that this year’s swim experience was the most enjoyable and fulfilling in their four years on the team.

As for the playoffs, the Penguins went against the toughest opponents in the league, such as the John Jay Jaguars, Cardozo’s Lady Judges, and Bronx Science’s Wolverines, defeating one after another. After managing to advance all the way to the finals versus the Brooklyn Tech Engineers, the Penguins were defeated 41-60, leaving Tech as the City Champions. While the girls fell short of gold this year, Dufenyuk still considers the season to be an absolute success. “Winning isn’t always the marker for success, longevity and dedication are far more important in creating a dynasty,” she said.