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Explorers Win 32nd Consecutive Catholic League Championship

The La Salle College High School Swim Team at the Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) Championship for the 32nd time in a row. Led by Coach Steve Duncheskie, the Explorers were able to beat out the likes of St. Joseph’s Prep, Father Judge and Cardinal O’Hara with 1194.5 points, more than 780 points above second place St. Joe’s. Duncheskie commented that, “our senior leadership set the tone for success and the underclassmen followed their lead in their training, the weight room, and most importantly in the classroom.”  

The team is led by several upperclassmen who help the younger teammates excel in training, as well as events. “One of the main reasons we won was our tradition of excellence,” said senior swimming veteran Liam Smith, who will be swimming for Notre Dame next year. “When you put on the gold cap for the first time as a freshman or when you get your white cap for post season, you think of all the great swimmers that came before you, and you do your best to honor their legacy. It is a big responsibility, but it is one that everyone on the team embraces,” said Smith who holds the school record for the 100m butterfly event, as well as the La Salle pool records in the same event, and the 200m and 500m freestyle events.

La Salle Swimmers are among some of the hardest working athletes and students, as they balance their stellar academic performance with their record-breaking training. “I have had many ups and downs, but the atmosphere at La Salle swimming makes it difficult to be negative, we are constantly motivated,” said junior freestyle swimmer Harry Hearn. “We have a very selective team taking people who can keep up in practice. We also are pushed every day in practice by our very experienced coaching staff, all who have graduated from La Salle College High School,” said Hearn. When asked about his highlight of swimming for La Salle, Hearn focused not on the pool, but on the people saying “Joining the swim team comes with a large group of peers that you can count on and trust. The work in the pool also translates into the classroom.” Smith also shared a similar answer when asked the same question, responding “Swimming has meant so much to me at La Salle. The best thing that I have gotten out of it is my brothers. The second I made the team, and even before that, I had 30 brothers that would be looking out for me.”

Swimming Feature from WEXPtv Harry Williamson '20

This win comes as the seventh since the passing of former head coach Frank Lichtner, who ran an undefeated PCL streak from the time he joined in 1990. Duncheskie has continued this legacy, even guiding the team through to win the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) championship in 2016, rounding off their five-year winning streak. “The PCL championship gives our whole team a chance to showcase their talents while they are rested and primed for racing,” said Duncheskie.

The coach said that to prepare for a PIAA win, the team is “currently doing some solid training both in the pool and in weight room.  However, we are still staying race ready both physically and mentally.” While the team has not won the PIAA since, they are in the running currently, and will aim to win the championship which concludes on Thursday, March 12, 2020. They have already solidified their position as the best in Philly, and are now looking to reclaim the title of best in the state.

Working with the team and Coach Duncheskie, along with Coach Tate, Coach Finlay, and Coach Rhoads has been a blessing. They set the foundation for what we do, and really put in a big effort to better the team. It means a lot to us that they sacrifice so much time making us better athletes and people,” said Smith on his experience with the coaching staff. As mentioned previously, Duncheskie took over as head coach in 2015, but has been coaching with the team since 2000. The students and coaching staff go into every meet and practice with the mindset of their history as winners and as Lasallians. This affects the way they approach both their swimming careers, and daily lives as students and adult leaders.

Some highlights of the PCL event included senior Liam Smith’s 100-yard butterfly victory, with a time of 48:65, junior Harry Hearn’s speedy 1:42:90, 200-yard freestyle and the school earning individual titles in seven different events. The team rolls out to the state championship March 11-12 at Bucknell University.   

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By Jakob Eiseman 
WEXPtv Multimedia Intern 
La Salle University Class 2022


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