Swimming Tradition

Seton Hall Prep Swimming has a long and successful tradition that features 31 Essex County Team Championships, 13 Super Essex Conference Championships, a dual meet winning percentage of over 84%, and 27 individual state titles. The first SHP swim team competed during the 1937-38 season and other than a two-year hiatus during the Second World War has continued ever since.

The program first gained prominence under William “Doc” Ferinden, who was head coach from 1939-40 through 1954-55, and then again in 1962-63. Ferinden’s teams compiled a 90-12 dual meet record (2 years of data are missing) and won the prestigious National Catholic Championship in 1941 and 1942.

Coach Harry McGarrigle would guide the Pirates to an undefeated 11-0 season in 1957-58, the last of his three years at the helm. He would be succeeded by Jim Fetten, who would have a 35-10 record over his four seasons.

It was during Fetten’s tenure that SHP swimming had its first individual state champion, Dick McDonough. Dick McDonough remains SHP’s most decorated swimmer, winning two state championships in each of his junior and senior seasons, capturing the 200 Freestyle and 150 IM (An event no longer swum) in 1959 and the 100 Butterfly and the 100 Freestyle in 1960. This was the beginning of an amazing run of 15 individual event championships in 10 years for SHP swimmers. In 1961 Fred Larue was state champ in the 200 IM along with Fred Brown in Diving. Pat Powers won the 200 Freestyle in 1962 and came back in his senior season of 1963 to win double gold in the 200 Freestyle and the 100 Butterfly. Joining him as a state champ in 1963 was Mike Faltraco in the 200 IM. Fred Brown won his second state Diving championship in his senior year in 1964. Bill McDonough, Dick’s younger brother, would add to the family and SHP trophy case by winning the state 100 Freestyle Championship in 1965. The Prep’s first relay Championship came in 1967, with the foursome of Terry Smith, Joe Slowinski, Dave McDonough and Tom Keough winning the 200 Medley Relay. Tom Battaglia would cap the run with a dominant double in 1968, capturing both the 100 Butterfly and 400 Freestyle. The coaches at the helm during this run were Fetten, Ferinden, and Rev. William Gibbons (41-12 from 1963-64 through 67-68).

John Prisco began a 13-year stint as head coach with the 1968-69 season, compiling a 99-43 dual meet record. Prisco’s run was highlighted by two individual state championships – Bill Barrett in
1973 taking the crown in the 400 freestyle, followed by Frank Fitzgerald the following year in the 100 backstroke – as well as the first two Essex County Team Championships for SHP in 1980 and 1981.
John Slevin (65-18-1) took the helm beginning in 1981-82. His seven-year run included three Essex County Championships in 1982, 1983 and 1986, plus the championship of the inaugural Iron Hills Conference Meet in 1983, with a repeat in 1984. 1983 featured a state championship in the 400 Freestyle Relay; the four swimmers were Ron Karnaugh, Charlie Webber, Chris O’Connell, and Tom Rathbun.

Ron Karnaugh went on to be a double state champion during the 1984 season, winning both the 200 IM and 100 Backstroke titles. He continued after graduation to become the most prominent of all SHP swimmers, finishing 6th in the 200 IM at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, and becoming the American record holder in the event in 1993.
    • The 2021-22 Team with the Non-Public A State Championship Trophy

    • 2024 graduate Richard Poplawski holds five school records - the 200 Freestyle, 200 IM, 100 Butterfly, 500 Freestyle, and 100 Backstroke, as well as being part of all three school record relays.

    • Pictured above, Ron Karnaugh ’84 – Former American Record Holder in the 200 IM.

Randy Schweitzer became head coach in the 1988-89 season, serving for 30 seasons until stepping aside following the 2017-2018 season. SHP had a 370-40 dual meet record during these years and won the Essex County Championship for 21 consecutive years, from 1998 until 2018. Under Schweitzer SHP won the Iron Hills Conference Championship 16 times, from 1992-96 and from 1998-2008, and won the first 9 Super Essex Conference Championships since the conference was established in 2009-10.

Prominent swimmers during these years include 4 individual state championships. In 1991, the 200 Freestyle Relay team of John Mitzak, Josh Bischoff, Scott DiGiacomo and Derek Fogg took gold with a winning time of 1:27.31, a state record which would stand for several years. Mike
Przywozny won the state crown in the 100 Freestyle in 1994. Kevin Wilson won 2 state titles in 2009 in the 100 Freestyle and the 100 Breaststroke; his time of 57.19 in the 100 breast remains the school record. Wilson also won the initial Cullen Jones award as Outstanding swimmer at the Essex County Championships that season, in addition to being named Swimmer of the Year by the Star-Ledger. 2011 graduate and 2012 Olympic Trials qualifier Kyle Madley set school records in three individual events and won the Cullen Jones award in 2011. 2015 graduate Justin Dunn won the Cullen Jones award in his senior season, and set several school records, two of which still stand, 20.67 in the 50 freestyle and 45.06 in the 100 freestyle, both set as runner-up performances at the 2015 state Individual Championships.

Coach Schweitzer’s longtime assistant Joe Alexander took over as Head Coach beginning with the 2018-19 season, and served for 6 years until stepping aside following the 2023-24 season. SHP had a 69-6 dual meet record during these years, highlighted by winning the first state tournament championship in school history in the 2021-22 season. Under Alexander the Pirates won the Essex County and Super Essex Conference Championship 5 times (no County and Conference Championship being contested in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic).

Roo Fenton was a stellar swimmer for both Coach Schweitzer and Coach Alexander, winning the Cullen Jones Award as Outstanding Swimmer at the Essex County Championships for three consecutive seasons. He was also part of a school record 200 Freestyle Relay team in 2019, joined by Jaeden Yburan ’21, Matthew Prior ‘20, and Luke Shea ’19.

Jaeden Yburan would build on his 2019 success to become one of SHP’s most outstanding career swimmers in spite of his opportunities being limited in his senior year, the year of the pandemic. He won the Cullen Jones award in 2020 and graduated holding 2 individual school records in the 200 IM and the 100 Backstroke as well as being part of 3 school record relays. In addition to the 200 Free Relay record in 2019, Jaeden was joined in his junior season by Matt Prior, Mike Pietrucha ’20 and Jack Devilbiss ‘21 in setting a new record in the 400 Freestyle Relay, and in his senior season by Connor Townson ’22, Richard Poplawski ’24 and Jack Devilbiss in the 200 Medley Relay.

The 2021-22 team was the most outstanding and successful in school history, winning SHP’s first Non-Public A State Title in swimming, beating CBA 93-77 in the final. Led by senior co-captains Dylan Negron and Connor Townson, the team has an undefeated dual meet record and won County and Conference Championships in addition to the state title.

The 2023-24 team accomplished a rare feat in winning state championships in all three relays at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions, smashing existing school records in the process. The 200
Medley Relay consisted of Karl Burghardt ’25, Aryan Kapoor ’24, Richard Poplawski ’24 and Cormac Rouse ’24, winning in 1:32.03. The same 4 swimmers won the 200 Freestyle Relay in 1:24.88, and Kapoor, Poplawski, and Rouse were joined by Owen Ripley ’24 in winning the 400 Freestyle Relay in 3:04.31.

Richard Poplawski graduates with a strong claim as the greatest swimmer in school history, holding 5 individual school records out of 8 events – the 200 Freestyle (1:40.80), 200 IM (1:50.75), 100 Butterfly (48.16), 500 Freestyle (4:34.06), and 100 Backstroke (50.27), in addition to being part of all three school record relays. He was twice the winner of the Cullen Jones Award and also holds the fastest relay splits in school history in the 50 Butterfly and 100 Freestyle.

Christopher Boyle ’13 takes over as Head Coach beginning with the 2024-25 season. Coach Boyle was a member of the SHP swim team as a student, and also swam at Rowan University. He has college coaching experience, and has served as assistant coach at SHP for the last 4 years.