Banner year for Wallingford Dolphins

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WALLINGFORD – The Wallingford YMCA Dolphins completed a strong 2019 season in the pool and the season continues on for five swimmers from the club.

Joey Zellner, Adam DiDomenico and Elise Richardson are heading to the Eppley Recreation Center on the campus of the University of Maryland with coach Matt Berry for the YMCA Long Course National Championships this week. The competition runs through Saturday.

Also, a pair of Wallingford 10-year-olds, Andrew Furtado and Neil Alejandro, are competing in the Eastern Zone Swimming Long Course Age Group Championship from Aug. 8-11 in Richmond, Virginia.

Furtado is coming off of a strong showing at the Connecticut Age Group Championships this past weekend. He was the champion in the 50 free (31.67) and was second in the 100 free (1:09.13). He touched the wall third in the 400 free (5:22.38) and 100 backstroke (1:21.06) and fourth overall in the 50 backstroke (38.11) and the 200 free (2:33.21).

Alejandro was sixth in the 50 backstroke (38.78) and seventh in the 50 butterfly (36.30) at the same meet.

In Maryland, DiDomenico and Richardson both will compete in the 50 freestyle. Zellner will compete in the 50 free as well as the 100 free, 50 breaststroke and the 100 breaststroke.

The three are record-breaking swimmers with the Dolphins. Zellner and Richardson each hold claim to seven club records apiece. DiDomenico owns two.

Zellner has set the club standard in the 50 freestyle (25.56), 100 free (56.39), 200 free (2:07.01), 400 free (4:44.19), 100 breaststroke (1:12.74), 200 breaststroke (2:49.88) and the 200 IM (2:20.4). DiDomenico owns Dolphins’ marks in the 100 backstroke (1:06.15) and the 200 backstroke (2:27.44).

“Joey really started getting good last year when he qualified for the YMCA Nationals,” Berry said. “He also qualified for nationals in short course this past spring. Joey and Adam have grown up on the team together. Both go to Sheehan. They both have a strong work ethic. They’ve been on this team for a while and have set an example for the younger kids. They are good swimmers for them to look up to.”

Richardson is entering her freshman year at Lyman Hall this fall as an owner of seven club records. She holds the Dolphins’ marks in the 50 free (28:08), 100 free (1:01.93), 200 free (2:18.25), 400 free (4:50.17), 800 free (10:16.83), 100 backstroke (1:10.61) and the 200 IM (2:38.49).

Like DiDomenico, Richardson is making her debut on the national stage.

“She is pretty incredible,” Berry said. “This past weekend, she pulled it all together and swam well enough to qualify for nationals. She’s a hard worker and always improving. She enjoys the competition and hates not hitting that wall first.”

Berry has coached in Wallingford for four years and he said this is the best year for the program during his tenure.

“I’m feeling pretty hopeful they will perform in Maryland,” Berry said. “They’ve been pretty focused in practice. It’s not easy to stay focused for a year straight. I’m feeling good about them.

“This has been a strong team for a while, but this year shows that we are heading in a great direction. If you told me in March that five kids from our program would still be swimming, I would be happy.”

The Dolphins have 95 swimmers during the summer season and expect that number to jump to 130 in the winter.

The Dolphins excelled at the Yankee Cluster Summer Championships held on July 19 and 20th at Maloney. Wallingford finished second overall, out of eight teams. The Wallingford girls won the championship and the Dolphin boys nabbed third.

Sally Darrow Senior Director of Membership & Wellness at the Wallingford YMCA said the team steadily improved as the season has gone on.

“At the Yankee Cluster Championship we were giving out best time temporary tattoos for each PR each swimmer got,” Darrow said. “We were handing them out left and right, it was ridiculous. They did such a great job. They really pushed to do their best and worked as a team.”

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