Swimming Tradition

Seton Hall Prep Swimming has a long and successful tradition that features 30 Essex County Team Championships, 12 Super Essex Conference Championships, a dual meet winning percentage of over 84%, and 24 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 run 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 2022-23 Team with the Non-Public A State Championship Trophy

    • 2023-24 Senior Richard Poplawski holds three school records in the 200 Freestyle, 500 Freestyle, and 100 Butterfly

    • 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 was also named Swimmer of the Year by the Star-Ledger that season. 2011 graduate and 2012 Olympic Trials qualifier Kyle Madley set school records in three individual events. 2015 graduate Justin Dunn set and still holds two individual school records, 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. That season featured two record setting performances. Jaeden Yburan set a new school record in the 100 Backstroke at the County/Conference championship and would go on to lower his mark at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions at 51.85. The 200 Free Relay Team of Yburan ’21, Matthew Prior ‘20, Luke Shea ‘19, and Roo Fenton ’19 would also set a new record at the Meet of Champions in 1:26.72. Fenton captured the Cullen Jones Award for the 3rd consecutive season as Outstanding Swimmer at the Essex County Championships, and swimming as a finalist in the Meet of Champions in 2 individual events and 2 relay events. His top finish at the meet was 2nd place in the 50 Freestyle in 20.80.

2019-20 was an exciting season for SHP swimming. The season began with a loss to a strong Montclair team, the first conference loss for SHP swimming since 2009. This set the stage for a great contest at the Essex County Championship Meet. Montclair led after 8 of the 11 events, but the Pirates came from behind to win SHPs 23rd consecutive county title. At the NJSIAA Meet of Champions, Pirate swimmers would set three new school records. Junior Jaeden Yburan lowered his own record in the 100 Backstroke to 50.51, and set a new record in the 200 IM in 1:51.99, both earning 3rd place finishes. Jaeden’s time in the 200 IM broke the oldest record on the books, besting Ron Karnaugh’s mark from 1984. Yburan would be joined by seniors Matt Prior and Mike Pietrucha and junior Jack Devilbiss in setting a new record in the 400 Freestyle Relay in a time of 3:11.76.

The 2020-21 season was delayed and shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Essex County/SEC Championships were not held, nor were the NJSIAA playoffs or Meet of Champions. Most dual meets were “virtual meets”, where each team swam in its own pool and results were compared afterward. SHP completed and undefeated 11-0 season, with 9 meets being virtual and 2 traditional “head-to-head” meets, and won the Super Essex Conference Championship. 2 new school records were set. The 200 Medley Relay Team of senior Jaeden Yburan, junior Connor Townson, freshman Richard Poplawski, and senior Jack DeVilbiss set a new mark of 1:35.58, and Poplawski highlighted his incredible debut season by swimming 1:42.85 for the new record in the 200 Freestyle.

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 team’s most outstanding individual swimmer was Richard Poplawski, who set three school records during the season, including the 200 Freestyle (1:41.41), 500 Freestyle (4:34.06), and 100 Butterfly (50.16). Richard also won the Cullen Jones Award as Most Valuable Swimmer at the County/Conference Championship Meet. The state tournament run was incredibly exciting, with SHP defeating the three traditional powers of the division in succession – St. Joseph of Metuchen (100-70), St. Augustine Prep (86-84) and CBA. The St. Augustine meet was the most exciting of all as the Pirates trailed by 14 with 3 events remaining, rallied to tie the score with one event to go, and won the last event, the 400 Free Relay, in dramatic fashion, coming from behind on the incredible anchor leg by Poplawski. Against CBA in the final, SHP won all three relays and 5 of 8 individual events with Poplawski winning the 200 and 500 Freestyles, Townson the 200 IM, Negron the 100 Breaststroke, and Sophomore Cormac Rouse the 100 Freestyle.

The 2022-23 Team finished at 12-1 with the only loss coming against St. Augustine Prep in the NJSIAA state tournament semifinal. Along the way SHP won the Essex County Championship for the 30th time and the Super Essex Conference Title for the 12th time.