For the third straight year, the IROCKETS USA Swimming Team competed to qualify for the chance to swim in the New England Regional Championships in White River Junction the weekend of February 10-12. The road to Regionals was paved with an intense series of weekend away meets in December, January, and February, and fifteen IROCKETS swimmers; Adam Lodewyk, Anika Hamby, Emma Stuart, Gabi Gyurkovics, Grace Miller, Hannah Chitambar, Kristina Gauvin, Liam Bailey-Rowe, Libby Chitambar, Macie Mosher, Olivia Miller, Peter Gyurkovics, Roxann Downing, Sarah Bilodeau, and Wyatt Hamby, gave it their all in the quest to make it to this championship event
Ultimately, twelve members of the team took to the lanes at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center in White River Junction, representing the Northeast Kingdom proudly and earning medals, ribbons, and personal bests during the 3 day meet alongside tough competitors from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. According to Head Coach Peter Stuart, “Our athletes worked hard to earn the right to go to Regionals, which is a testament to their commitment and our community’s commitment to the sport of swimming. They continue to impress me and these are proud moments for our team.”
Sarah Bilodeau started the IROCKETS out on Friday night swimming the 200 yard individual medley, which includes 50 yards each of the butterfly, back, breast, and freestyle strokes. Saturday brought out the 10 and under and 13-14 year old age groups where Peter Gyurkovics, Anika Hamby, Grace Miller, and Wyatt Hamby all posted personal bests during the morning session. The afternoon session brought out the best in our 11-12 and 15-19 year old swimmers: Gabi Gyurkovics, Sarah Bilodeau, Roxann Downing, Libby Chitambar, Hannah Chitambar, Liam Bailey-Rowe, and Adam Lodewyk. Sunday saw these swimmers back in the pool where they were joined by Emma Stuart for the final day of championship competition.
Peter Gyurkovics was the top IROCKETS medal and ribbon winner for the meet, cutting through the water for a 3rd place finish in the 100 yard freestyle with a time of 1:29.89, a 3rd place finish in the 25 yard breaststroke with a time of 22.82 seconds, a 5th place finish in the 50 yard freestyle with a time of 40.97 seconds, a 12th place finish in the 25 yard freestyle with a time of 19.22 seconds, and a 6th place finish in the 25 yard backstroke with a time of 22.59 seconds.
Grace Miller impressed with personal bests in the 50 yard breaststroke with a time of 54.86 seconds, the 50 yard freestyle at 40.66 seconds, the 50 yard butterfly at 52.89 seconds, the 50 yard backstroke at 50.82 seconds, and the 100 yard individual medley at 1:46.98.
Sarah Bilodeau earned a 15th place ribbon for the 50 butterfly with a time of 33.93 seconds along with personal bests of 42.66 in the 50 yard breaststroke, 1:20.55 in the 100 yard butterfly, 1:32.38 in the 100 yard breaststroke, and 1:15.80 in the 100 individual medley.
Roxann Downing finished 13th in the 50 yard backstroke with a time of 35.80. She also bested her previous efforts in the 100 yard backstroke by a whopping 8 seconds for a time of 1:22.28, with additional best times of 31.43 in the 50 yard freestyle and 1:11.77 in the 100 yard freestyle.
Anika Hamby earned personal bests in the 50 yard butterfly, posting a time of 50.80 seconds, and the 50 yard breaststroke with a time of 56.45 seconds.
Gabi Gyurkovics decreased her seed times to come in with personal bests of 32.15 in the 50 yard freestyle and 45.57 in the 50 yard breaststroke.
Libby Chitambar knocked more than a second off of her time in the 50 yard backstroke, coming in with 40.15 seconds for this event.
Wyatt Hamby sliced through the water to earn a 15th place finish in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:22.54, shaving 5 seconds off his seed time for a personal best in this event. That was followed by another personal best of 29.46 in the 50 yard freestyle and 1:06.18 in the 100 freestyle.
The Regional Championship Meet was also the capstone event for Team Captain Adam Lodewyk, a high school senior at NCUHS in the final year of his youth swimming career. He walked away with a 2nd place medal in the 100 butterfly and a time of 1:00.55 along with 3 ribbon finishes in the 200 individual medley (2:21.57), the 100 backstroke (1:07.25), and the 100 freestyle (57.28).
“Swimming has been an important part of my life for the past ten years, six of them with the IROCKETS swim team. I am going to really miss my teammates and the coaching staff, who have pushed me when I needed pushing and encouraged me to go beyond my limits to put in the best performance possible. I will always be a swimmer and look forward to more opportunities to jump in the pool as I head off to college in the fall.”
In all, the IROCKETS earned 30 personal bests in 49 events at Regionals, tying last year’s record. Said Coach Ted Chitambar of the team, “It is particularly gratifying to see these swimmers improve year over year and observe the positive impact that opportunities like Regionals have had on the growth of our team as a whole. With our continued commitment to USA Swimming, we expect to see even more members of the IROCKETS team at next year’s championship meet.”
These achievements would not have been possible without the support of the IROCKETS’ coaches, families, and Swim-a-thon sponsors, whose generous contributions ensured that our athletes would have a place to swim this season. This season’s key benefactors include Ray and Christine Pronto, Phil White, Joanne Bennett, Bill Peck, David Dammerman, Christopher and Annah Sullivan, Paul Decelles, Claudio Fort, Peter and Lona Stuart, Bobby Starr, Buzzy Roy, Doug and Vivian Spates, Gregory Cresswell, and Thompson’s Redemption. This continued support ensures that these talented swimmers keep growing, progressing, and succeeding in a sport where they are part of a team and have the opportunity to achieve personal successes that last a lifetime.
For more information about the IROCKETS Swim Team, please contact Patricia Bennett or Teresa Sinel at 334-9041 or email@example.com  or visit the IROCKET website at www.irockets.org .