By Warren Rappleyea
Thirty-seven area swimmers from the Raritan Valley YMCA Riptide swim team are in Charlotte, North Carolina, this week to compete in the Sun Kissed Junior/Senior Championships of the USA meet, which begins March 30 and runs through April 2.
All of the Riptide competitors had to attain qualifying times in their events in order to make the trip to North Carolina, according to coach Brian Rose.
“What’s unique about the Sun Kissed meet is the wide range of ages of the swimmers,” Rose said. “Even though swimmers compete at different levels, we all go as one team. For the past two months, all 37 of them have spent a lot of time in the pool preparing for this meet.”
The Raritan Valley YMCA has been sending teams to Sun Kissed for the past 21 years and has finished second in the team competition several times. At last year’s event, Andrew Thompson won the crown in the men’s 400-meter individual medley. Thompson, a resident of Milltown, is also a member of the swim team at Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen, the perennial Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) champions.
“We have a lot of talented swimmers on this team, and many others have come through the YMCA over the years,” said Rose, a Riptide alum who went on to compete for Swarthmore College.
At the Sun Kissed meet, there are several freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and individual medley events broken into various distances. Competitors are broken up by age, with the senior division comprising competitors 14 years of age or older and the junior division comprising those 13 or younger.
There are 13 competitions in the senior group and 12 in the junior division. The top 16 in each competition score points for their respective teams.
Some of the Riptide’s senior swimmers in their final year include Luca Biagiotti and Darby VanDeVeen of East Brunswick High School, Jake Donofrio of North Brunswick Township High School, Noah Callahan of Highland Park High School and Tyler Catania of Spotswood, who competes for St. Joseph of Metuchen. Thompson, Biagiotti, VanDeVeen and Catania are the Riptide’s captains.
Other top senior swimmers include Max Aleexev, Itamar Hillel, Amaya Renzulli and Jacob Snow of East Brunswick; Dominick and Michael D’Esposito of Monroe; and Ava Lynch of South Amboy.
The senior squad also features Jonathan Benowitz, Kerry O’Brien, Michael Pacitti and Ryan VanDeVeen of East Brunswick; Matthew Liu and Angelica Warren of Edison; Olivia Lockey and Alyssa Pilch of Highland Park; Nina Mendes of Kendall Park; Lily Siglam, C.J. Talerico, and Trent Tigelaar of Milltown; Leilah Mohamed of Monroe; Ryan Kappes and Daniel Simpson of North Brunswick; and Gabrielle Dellaglio of Spotswood.
The junior contingent is comprised of Micahel Palumbo and Megan Tseng of East Brunswick; Kurt Yang of Edison; Milo Shiffman, Maeve Silverman and Benjamin Lockey of Highland Park; Tanner Tighelaar of Milltown; and Henry Lynch of South Amboy.
Rose noted that Snow, 12, is one of the young freestyle swimmers in the state and that Tseng, 11, is the youngest member of the team.