Raleigh Charter has made it a habit of sweeping North Central Athletic 1A Conference swimming titles, and the Phoenix had no interest of breaking it on Monday afternoon at the Triangle Aquatic Center.
Raleigh Charter’s boys racked up 510 points and the girls had 490. Both were well ahead of runner-up Franklin Academy (298 boys, 383 girls). The present-day NCAC has 10 members, all charter schools, but only five fielded either a boys or girls swimming program.
The nature of how charter schools admit students – a random lottery – has made the Phoenix’s eight-year reign on the NCAC stand out even more.
“It can vary from year to year depending on the kids that get into Raleigh Charter; it’s a lottery. From year-to-year we can either get a lot of great swimmers or only one or two that are committed, year-round swimmers,” first-year coach Kim Lewis said. “Recently we’ve just had a wave of swimmers get into the school and go ahead and decide to swim for the high school team, which has been really nice.”
But Raleigh Charter will have no chance to repeat next year, as the conference splits into northern and southern halves. Raleigh Charter, River Mill Academy and other NCAC schools that don’t field a swimming program will join a new-look Central Tar Heel 1A and the remaining teams will form the NCAC with addition of Oxford Prep.
The only non-Raleigh Charter winner on the boys’ side was Voyager Academy sophomore Adam Cheifetz, who won the 100 free (53.45).
For the most part, Raleigh Charter had a different winner for every event: Allen Yuan in the 200 free (1:54.20), Matt Congiusta in the 200 IM (2:16.23), Aravin Ganesan in the 100 butterfly (59.24), Emerson Hershfield in the 500 free (5:01.20) and Isaac Hancock in the 100 backstroke (1:02.21).
Freshman Jason Starbuck – who won the 50 free (23.76) and the 100 breaststroke (1:03.97) – was the lone exception.
The Phoenix won the 200 medley relay (1:46.92) and the 200 free (1:39.11) thanks to Starbuck, Ganesan, Hershfield and Hancock. The 400 free relay went to Congiusta, Yuan, Trey Hester and Duncan McSorley (3:48.18).
Aside from Annie Carr, of River Mill Academy in Graham, the Phoenix took all the gold medals on the girls’ side. Carr won the 50 free (25.29) and the 500 free (5:17.59).
Raleigh Charter junior Sydney Willis was the only other double-winner, taking the 200 free (2:03.82) and 100 butterfly (1:05.06). She was joined in the winners’ category by Emma Peck (100 backstroke, 1:04.49), Sydney Parsons (100 breaststroke, 1:12.52), Lily Whalen (100 free, 58.52) and Hannal Ellison (200 IM, 2:21.70).
The Phoenix mixed up their three winning relay teams. Peck, Parsons, Mia Busick and Riley Watkins won the 200 medley (2:02.73); Peck, Willis, Whalen and Kathleen Lane took the 200 free (1:49.98) and Whalen, Willis, Parsons and Kate Schauss won the 400 free (4:00.01).
1. Raleigh Charter 510
2. Franklin Academy 298
3. Voyager Academy 273
1. Raleigh Charter 490
2. Franklin Academy 383
3. Voyager Academy 297
4. River Mill Academy 65
5. Kestrel Heights 28