By Contributor Ron Spink
Three was the magic number Saturday as the Piedmont Tsunamis remained undefeated for the third straight season, while bringing home the top PWSL honors in a three-peat performance as Blue Division champions. In a dominant effort that celebrated Head Coach Jay Thorpe’s final splash with the club, the team delivered their fourth championship in the past five years – and improved their winning streak to 21-0. The Tsunamis clinched the division title for the first time at the Sudley Seahorse home pool by carrying the day strongly with a total tally of 4271.5 points. The win represented their most decisive Blue Division margin of victory ever, at a 626.5 point gap over the runner-up Sudley Seahorses (3645 points), and the new-to-division Dominion Valley Sharks (3577.5 points). The Blue Division victory for Piedmont also translated to a PWSL Cyber Meet top mark of 536.5 points, leading all 24 clubs and ranking ahead of second place Sudley by over 105 total points.
Lower temperatures in the early morning hours translated to the fastest pool times of the event, as four team records (yielding three league records), dropped before 9:45 am – with excessive heat bringing challenges to personal bests and performances as the day progressed. Piedmont opened the competition with authority, winning six out of eleven early relay matches – and included a crushing pair of league record takedowns for both of the 15-18 Girls relay events. The first, coming in at 1:50.40, was the 200 Free Relay squad of Maddie Richardson, Sophie Hayden, Emma Hannam, and Camille Spink. Quickly thereafter, Richardson, Hannam, and Spink would be joined by McKenna Curry in setting the new league standard by a half second in the 200 Medley Relay at a mark of 2:00.90 – the first squad to ever come in under the 2:01 barrier.
Individually, Spink finished her PWSL swim career with another league record in the Girls 15-18 Free. Here, she topped her own best from 2021 to set a new floor of 25.63 seconds. The record capped an unprecedented five PWSL league record performances for Spink in combined team and individual events for the 2023 season, her last as a Tsunami. The 15-18 Boys also had a team record mark in the morning, with Alex Crown shaving almost a full second from a time delivered by Eric Liao in 2019, to bring the club best to 58.75 in the 100 IM.
Piedmont 9-10 Boys standout Brandon Thai swept all three of his individual events on the day in the 50 Free, 100 IM, and the 25 Fly – in which he tied his current team record mark of 15.94 seconds. Notably, Thai joins the above-mentioned Spink as the only swimmers to set Piedmont team records in all five individual events for a single age group.
Big Speed / Photo Finish: In one of the tightest races of the day, Piedmont speedster Sophia Malinowski edged out Dominion Valley Shark Elizabeth Schroeder by a mere quarter second – with the swimmers finishing 1st and 3rd in the league, respectively, for the 11-12 50 Meter Butterfly event. In another barn-burning matchup during the early afternoon, only .36 seconds separated the top three slots in the Girls 13-14 50M Fly event as Tori Simmons out-touched Dominion Valley’s Amelia Edwards by .15 seconds to take first place with a time of 31.78. Notably, Piedmont’s Sedonah Traister secured bronze in the event as well with a 32.14 mark – solidly leading the remaining finishers.
As the head-to-head contests were finally tallied, individual swims for the Piedmont club outpaced the field as the team brought home 38% of all first place ribbons in the contest. Blue ribbon winners for the group included (PWSL top times noted by number in parenthesis): Landon Norman, Leah Bearyman, Brandon Thai (3), Alex Crown (1), Camille Spink (3), Maddie Richardson (1), Neel Radhakrishnan, Emma Hannam (1), Sophia Malinowski (1), Tori Simmons, and Justin Lee. In total for the PWSL Cyber Meet, Piedmont closed the day with 131 overall Top 24 finishes, more than any other club.
The meet concluded as Head Coach Jay Thorpe said his farewells to Tsunami Nation, passing the torch to veteran Assistant Head Coach Evan Brandt – as the legacy of the Piedmont team continues. The Piedmont Tsunamis exit the 2023 summer campaign making history, being the only team other than the Sudley Seahorses to have successfully navigated their way to a three-season consecutive defense of the highest honors, in the top division in the league. We will next see the Tsunami wave rise in June 2024, as they look to defend their unblemished record and title for the fourth consecutive season. The Tsunami family sincerely thanks our fellow Blue Division members and divisional hosts, the Sudley Seahorses, along with the Dominion Valley Sharks for an outstanding day of swim competition. Additionally, Piedmont celebrates and cheers our incredibly supportive families, coaches, officials, sponsors, board members, and meet volunteers for another outstanding, and unparalleled, summer of swim.