King’s Academy Swimmers Are Ready To Swim Fast At States

The King’s Academy girls swimming team were the 2022 regional champions. Photo courtesy Tim McQueeney

A year ago, at the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Class 1A State Swimming & Diving Championships, the King’s Academy Lions had very strong performances by its boys and girls swimming and diving teams. In the team points competition, the boys finished in second place, and the girls finished in fourth place. Both were program-best performances.

On Friday, Nov. 18, this year’s FHSAA Class 1A State Swimming & Diving Championships return to the Sailfish Splash Waterpark in Stuart. A number of swimmers from TKA will be competing again at the meet, which was postponed a week due to Hurricane Nicole.

At the state swim finals, every swimmer will swim his or her races during the morning preliminary session, where there are usually three heats of swimmers for each event with eight swimmers in each heat. Of those 24 swimmers who compete in the morning preliminaries, the top eight will advance to the championship A finals that evening. The next fastest eight will advance to the consolation B finals. This year, there are actually three events — the girls 50-yard freestyle, the boys 50-yard freestyle and the boys 100-yard freestyle — with 25 swimmers, which will require four heats.

In the relays, there are 21 teams in each of the three relays — the 200-yard medley relay, the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 400-yard freestyle relay. The top 16 relay teams will advance to either the championship A finals or the consolation B finals that evening. In the all-important race for the team title, points will be awarded for swimmers and relay teams that compete in either the championship or consolation finals. More points are awarded to the swimmers in the championship final than in the consolation final. In the relays, the points are doubled.

According to TKA boys head swim coach Jonathan Zuchowski and girls head swim coach Gina Proscia, the school has a team in all three relays for both boys and girls. TKA’s girls 200-yard medley relay team has the fastest seed time in the event (1:43.40) and is the favorite to win. Not only will this squad be chasing a state championship, TKA’s quartet of swimmers will also be looking to break the existing state record in the event (1:42.34), which was set by Gainesville’s Buchholz High School in 2017. In the girls 200-yard medley relay, the four members of the squad are senior Ava Fasano (backstroke), junior Alyssa Bozzuto (breaststroke), sophomore Emma Herrera (butterfly) and senior Julianna Bell (freestyle). The foursome holds the school record in this event. In the event last year, TKA finished second to the Bolles School from Jacksonville.

In the girls 200-yard freestyle relay, TKA had the eighth-fastest seed time and is seeded fourth in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Both units are expected to advance to the championship finals on Friday night.

In the three boys relays, TKA is seeded fifth in the 200-yard medley relay, eighth in the 200-yard freestyle relay and fourth in the 400-yard freestyle relay. In the individual events, TKA has eight girls and five boys competing.

Proscia is delighted with the commitment to excellence displayed by her swimmers this fall.

“This season has been an incredible dream come true,” Proscia said. “God has blessed our team in so many ways. We’ve seen cancer being healed before our very eyes among coaches, parents and grandparents on our team. Coach Jonathan Zuchowski and I were very protective of this season and have tried daily to keep swimming and honoring God our daily focus. The girls are having an incredible season together, and we are grateful for this special time we’ve shared. I am so proud of each of these young ladies and the way they flourished throughout the entire season.”

This fall, the girls from TKA won their Class 1A district meet, their Class 1A Region 4 regional meet and the Palm Beach County Championships.

At states, in the girls 200-yard freestyle, sisters Kiersten Munna and Paige Munna will be representing TKA. Kiersten, a sophomore, is seeded seventh, while Paige, a senior, is the 23rd seed. At last year’s state meet, Kiersten finished eighth in the 200-yard freestyle.

In the girls 200-yard individual medley, senior Amanda Loomis, currently seeded 20th, will be looking to crack the top 16 and advance to swim on Friday night.

In the girls 50-yard freestyle, the Lions have three swimmers — Aly Bozzuto, Ava Fasano and Julianna Bell — competing in the race. In the 50-yard freestyle, Bozzuto is the top seed with a seed time of 23.42. She has a strong chance to win the state title. Last year, Bozzuto finished eighth, while Fasano, who is seeded fourth, was fourth in the 50-yard freestyle. Bell is seeded 16th this year. In the 50-yard freestyle, TKA is one of three schools with three swimmers in the field.

In the girls 100-yard butterfly, sophomore Emma Herrera is the sole swimmer from TKA in the race. She is seeded third with a time of 55.65 and is a strong favorite to advance to the championship final on Friday night. At last year’s Class 1A meet, Herrera swam the 200-yard individual medley and the 500-yard freestyle.

In the girls 100-yard freestyle, TKA has three swimmers competing. They are Kiersten Munna, Madison Sipowski and Julianna Bell. Munna is the sixth seed, Sipowski is the 11th seed and Bell is seeded 17th.

In the girls 500-yard freestyle, Emma Herrera and Paige Munna will be swimming this 20-lap race for the Lions. Herrera had the third-fastest seed time, while Munna is seeded 17th. At this event last year, Herrera earned a spot in the championship final and finished eighth, while Munna swam in the consolation final and was 16th.

In the girls 100-yard backstroke, Ava Fasano returns and is looking to improve upon her eighth-place finish in 2021. Fasano has the 14th-fastest seed time this year.

In the girls 100-yard breaststroke, Ally Bozzuto and Madison Sipowski qualified again in this event. Bozutto is the top seed this year with an automatic All-American time of 1:02.41, while Sipowski, a senior, is seeded sixth this year. Both girls are expected to advance to the championship final. Last year in the girls 100-yard breaststroke, Bozutto was seventh, and Sipowski was 13th.

In the girls one-meter diving competition, the sole TKA diver is senior Madison Okon, who will be looking to improve upon her 14th-place finish last year. She is seeded seventh this year.

In the boys races, juniors Noah Smith and Noah Engstrom will be swimming in the 50-yard freestyle. Smith is seeded fifth this year (21.31) and Engstrom is seeded 11th (21.72). The difference in seed times between top-seeded Andrew Kravchenko of Bolles and Smith is .61 seconds, while Engstrom’s seed time is 1.02 seconds behind Kravchenko.

In the boys 100-yard freestyle, Engstrom is joined by teammate Hamilton Gates. Engstrom is the 17th seed (48.35), and Gates is the 23rd seed (48.80).

In the boys 100-yard backstroke, Noah Smith and Hamilton Gates will compete. Smith has a strong chance to win the state title, as he is seeded second (50.45) and is expected to be swimming in the championship final. With a heat time of 54.93, Gates is seeded 16th.

In the boys 100-yard breaststroke, Tyler Wilkinson and Timothy McQueeney will be representing the Lions. Wilkinson is the 17th seed, and McQueeney is the 18th seed.