HACY Makes a Splash at YMCA National Festival Meet

Life in the Fast Lane: Hamilton YMCA Swim Team (HACY) Makes a Big Splash at 2021 National Festival Championships

   Following her selection as the 2020 YMCA National Coach of the Year, Hamilton Aquatic Club Coach Sue Welsh had to address a difficult question: “How do you transform a pandemic into an awards podium?”

    To that end, the 2021 YMCA Swimming Festival was segmented to five U.S.  regions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. During the weekend of April 8-11, Hamilton Y (HACY) competed in the Voorhees, NJ portion of the event. As a challenge it was all new, a mission accepted and embraced.

     From the YMCA National 50-yard freestyle record of 19.33 laid down by senior David Curtiss on April 9 to the time of 3:04.05 in the 400-yard free relay the squad of Curtiss, Ryan Ward, Steven Wilfing and Dominic Edwards established as a team record, the season finished with a high wave. Mettle becoming medals.

   “This will be one of the most memorable Nationals I have attended over the years,” Coach Welsh said.  “Seven athletes from a small YMCA program made their presence known with outstanding individual and relay performances.”

     As the times dropped – with no spectators allowed at the NL Complex – the stakes rose. Hamilton swimmers endured change and doubt throughout the endeavor, somehow staying together as the season might have unraveled. They came back together for a final charge.

    From best times to best swims, the most gratifying part of the meet was having the opportunity to shine in a time of uncertainty. Remarkable team records were set by Curtiss (48.51 in the 100 butterfly), (1:38.71 in the 200 freestyle), (57.00 in the 100 breaststroke), and (42.80 in the 100 freestyle) as he looks to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team during the June, 2021, Trials in Omaha, NE.

    Other HACY athletes put down some huge improvements, including freshman Allie Sommers of Hunterdon Central with a 7th place in the 500 freestyle (5:03.98), 13th in the 100 backstroke (58.13 team record), 6th in the 1650 freestyle (17:36.76), 15th in the 200 backstroke (2:04.66 team record), and Avery Stimmel of Pennsbury High School with a 16th place in the 50 free (24.70), 16th in the 200 free (1:54.87), 16th in the 100 breast (1:07.16), and 13th in the 100 free (53.03).

    Second place efforts from Edwards in the 100 free (45.72) and the 200 free (1:39.63) represented huge drops and also accompanied career bests in the 50 free and 100 free. Ward went 53.48 in the boys 100 back for 21st place and 1:54.73 in the 200 free for 13th place.

    Wilfing dropped down to a career best 21.98 in the 50 free and pared almost four seconds in the 100 fly (53.91). Sophomore Trish Verma pared over a second combined in the 100 fly (59.70) and 100 free (56.38).

    In the relay portion of the meet, HACY also broke the longest standing club relay record as the quartet of Curtiss, Edwards, Ward and Wilfing finished 5th in a time of 6:54.36.

    For more information about the Hamilton Aquatic Club, please visit the Hamilton Aquatics Club website (

    Senior recognition for the Class of 2021 includes future swimming for Curtiss (N.C. State), Edwards (Cornell), Wilfing (Frostburg State), Ward (Steven Institute of Technology), Stimmel (Loyola Maryland).