WEST WINDSOR: Pirates swim past Knights in showdown


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By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
The West Windsor-Plainsboro South boys swim team came into the season a confident group. And the results of their dual meets have done nothing to dampen their confidence.
The Pirates moved one step closer to an undefeated regular season with a 91-79 win over WW-P North on Tuesday. The Pirates were scheduled to face Trenton on Thursday and with a win would conclude an unbeaten regular season.
“The season has been smooth for the most part,” said senior Richard Deng, who won the 100 backstroke and was part of two winning relays against the Knights. “Our first two or three meets were really big. We beat Notre Dame and Princeton and after winning those meets we had a lot of confidence going into the next meets. We used that momentum and learned from the mistakes we made those meets.
“I felt like we kept on improving as the season went on. We had a few meets that were close because we were missing some swimmers due to injuries and international competitions. But we felt good because we didn’t lose any of them.”
While the boys have been winning meet after meet, the girls have done the same since opening the season with two straight losses. They Pirates lost to Notre Dame and Princeton to open the season but have bounced back to win 10 in a row since. They had perhaps their best effort of the season in a 108-62 win over the Knights.
“The girls really had a phenomenal meet,” WW-P South coach Jessica Turner said. “They have been working really hard in practice. They had two losses at the beginning of the season. We were really figuring out where to swim girls in different events and where the girls were strongest. Things have really come together and they had an outstanding meet today.”
Annie Menninger won the 200 individual medley and 400 free to lead the way for the Pirates. The Pirates also picked up individual wins from Jen Birkland in the 50 free, Jennifer Clancey in the 100 free and Virginia Sperandini in the 100 breaststroke.
The biggest difference for the Pirates was depth, as they managed to offset every North win by taking at least second and third in any event the Knights won. Senior captain Mady Ferguson was a big part of that depth, taking second in the 100 free and third in the 200 free.
“Mady is one of our senior captains,” Turner said. “She is a very strong freestyle swimmer so we kind of utilize her to her strength in that. We use her in practice where sometimes we have the seniors and captains breaking into groups and working with the other kids on flip turns and stuff like that. She is always taking on that leadership role.”
Ferguson takes her role as a leader for the Pirates very seriously. Now in her fourth year with the team she is hoping for a strong finish to the season.
“I just wanted to make sure the team was really close and we were all supportive of each other,” Ferguson said. “We have all worked hard in practice and supported each other.
“The first couple meets we worked out the kinks and have done better after that. I wasn’t sure how I would do. I have been happy with the way we have all supported each other and cheered each other on. That’s been important.”
The boys have also come together nicely this season. In addition to the win in the back by Deng in the win over the Knights, Kurt Von Autenried won the 50 free and 100 fly, while Aleksandr Simonelli won the 100 freestyle. The Pirates improved to 12-0 with the win.
“Last year we had a similar result where we won all of our conference meets,” Deng said. “We knew that North was getting some new kids and we kind of anticipated this meet as being very close. Last year we knew we were getting some new kids and other teams were getting some new kids. We have a lot of depth this year so right out of the gate we had confidence.”
The depth of the Pirates has been a big plus in their success. Against the Knights, Michael Zhong was second in both the 100 fly and 400 free, while Alex He was second in the 100 breaststroke and third in the 50 free.
“That is one thing that we noticed and have been building on as the season has gone on,” Turner said. “The depth and where we can use them and how they span across events. We really try to take advantage of that.” 

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