Malvern swimming team wins National Catholic Championship

Brian Szipszky

With five gold medals and several other top eight finishes, Malvern swimming took home their first National Catholic Championship since 2008.

On January 20-21, Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore hosted the annual National Catholic Swimming & Diving Championship. Facing other Catholic high schools across the nation, Malvern finished in first place with 318 points, leading the second-place team by 48. This was Malvern’s fifth championship in school history.

It was a tough start to the season for the Friars, with season-ending injuries to juniors Connor Cary and Trevor Henderson at the beginning of the year. Consequentially, no one on the team was really thinking about National Catholics—at least, not yet.

“I really kind of thought that our depth at the championship meets would suffer,” Head Swimming and Diving coach Jay Schiller said. “So, it wasn’t something I had on my radar as far as winning the championship, but I knew I wanted to do well with the guys that I’d take.”

Sophomore Jack Cassidy agreed that the team wasn’t preparing for the event to start the season, but later made it a goal.

“We had a slow start to the beginning of our season,” Cassidy said. “But as the season went on and we started to put up some fast times, we all started thinking that we had a chance  at winning.”

Travelling to Maryland, the team now knew they had the talent to win the championship, even while missing key athletes. They just needed the motivation.

“The day before the meet started we had a practice at Loyola and Mr. Schiller put up a little note as a reminder that Malvern hasn’t won in 12 years,” Cassidy said. “After that our goal was to do whatever we could to win.”

One of Malvern’s most important figures in achieving that win was junior Matt Magness, who was named the Male Swimmer of the Meet. Magness won gold medals in the 200 yard freestyle and the 500 yard freestyle, and was part of the four-man relay teams that won the 200 yard freestyle and the 400 yard freestyle. Receiving the award was a personal goal of Magness’s before the season began.

“It was the first time the team won the meet in a while and only the fifth time in school history, so it was pretty cool to be a part of something that rare,” Magness said. “It definitely ranks pretty high as one of the bigger things in my swimming career.”

Schiller said that he was thrilled with the way the team came together for this meet after finishing second in the Inter-Ac.

“I was thrilled, please, I couldn’t be happier for this group,” Schiller said. “When you’re second in your league behind Haverford, a school that’s going to be ranked nationally, winning National Catholics was a great exclamation point to our season.”