YWCA Flying Fish soar at end-of-season meets


The YWCA Flying Fish swim team had a strong showing at their end-of-season meets, sending the largest group of qualifiers ever to the Sunkissed Invitational Swim Meet.

The event, formerly known as the YWCA National Championships, was held April 3 to 6 in Charlotte, N.C.

The Flying Fish were represented by over 49 swimmers competing in two divisions, the 13-and-under junior division and the senior division for older youngsters.

Two Flying Fish women in the senior division captured top three finishes.Amelia Girgenti was third in the 100 free (52.81), and Ana Woods was second in the 100 breast (105:19).

In the men’s senior division, Ryan Knohl placed third in the 200 Free (1:42.11), third in the 100 Fly (52.23), second in the 500 Free (4:36.70) and third in the 200 Fly (1:54.59). Chris Russo was third in both the 100 back (52.06) and 200 back (1:52.89).

The senior boys 200 and 400 medley relays (1:36.65, 3:29.35) both took second, behind Chris Russo, Jake Girard, Ryan Knohl, and Duncan Martinson. The Senior boys 200 free relay placed third (1:25.62) and the 400 free relay placed second (3:07.01), with Martinson, Knohl, Christian Stankovic, and Russo (pictured above).

Chris Russo broke two team records in his backstroke events, and the team set six new team relay records, including all of the Senior boys relays, as well as the Senior girls 200 free relay (1:40.22) with Ana Woods, Mary Claire D’Arrigo, Anna Topping, and Amelia Girgenti, and the 13/14 boys 200 medley relay (1:45.68) with Jack Larkin, Ethan Lim, Jonathan Booth and Aidan Dillon.

Matt Gibson was recognized as the Flying Fish “Male Age Group Swimmer of the Year.” Matt had a great season, breaking four team records for 9/10 boys, 50 fly (31.65), 100 fly (1:14.46), 50 back (34.34) and 200 IM (2:48.65). He also placed in the Top 16 in 3 events at Illinois Age Group Champs, 100 Fly (1:14.16), 50 Fly (31.91) and 50 Back (34.24).

Sisters Sophia and Amelia Girgenti were named female Age Group Swimmer of the Year and Senior Swimmer of the Year respectively. Sophia reached the finals in all 6 of her events at the YWCA’s championship meet, qualifying for the top 8 final in the 100 back and 100 free. Amelia qualified for finals in all of her events at the Sunkissed Invitational, and reached the podium with a third place finish in the 100 free.

Male “Senior Swimmer of the Year” was a tie, with both Chris Russo and Duncan Martinson taking home the honor.  Chris reached the finals in all of his events and made it to the podium in the 100 and 200 back, breaking team records in both. Chris was also part of each of the four senior relays that broke team records at the meet. Duncan reached the finals in 5 of his events in Charlotte and was an integral part of all 4 record breaking relays. His lead off leg of the 200 free relay was also a team record for 15 – 18 year olds (21.11).

At the senior state championships, five Flying Fish swimmers represented the team in the finals: Clay Hackley (1000 Free), Ryan Knohl (200 Free and 100 Fly), Duncan Martinson (50 Free), Chris Russo (50 Free and 100 Back), and Ana Woods (100 and 200 Breast). 74 Flying Fish participated in regional competition.

With 1300 children in the learn-to-swim program and over 600 swimmers on the team, Flying Fish Aquatics is one of the biggest aquatics programs in Illinois.

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