Loyola Blakefield Swimming & Diving blazed through the pool during January’s National Catholic Swimming & Diving Championships, earning themselves a first-place finish. The team outfought talented teams including St. Ignatius Cleveland, Malvern Prep, and Gonzaga College High School.
Halfway through the first day of races, the Dons were facing some adversity. Their chances of coming out on top were low, but they never gave up. “Gonzaga made a crucial mistake, and we took the opportunity and ran with it,” said senior captain Ryan Branon ’22. Branon, Cam Shinnick, and Ryan Snyder led the Dons with some impressive times on Saturday. The team even put together a new school record in the 200-medley relay. After these outstanding individual and team performances, the Dons fought back.
Going into Sunday’s finals, they seemed to be on pace to win. In the early stages of the morning, the divers set the tone, outscoring Gonzaga by a total of 20 points. During the afternoon, the swim team fed off this energy as they lit up the pool. This included a new National Catholic record set by Ryan Branon in the 100 Fly. Recording a final time of 48.47 seconds, Branon built upon the Dons’ dominance. They finished off the day in similar style going back and forth with Gonzaga, ultimately securing their first National Catholic title in seven years.