Pequannock's Stefanides made major impression

Pequannock's Stefanides made major impression

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Pequannock's Stefanides made major impression

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Swimming has become a Stefanides family tradition.

Kyle Stefanides likely wouldn’t even have started swimming if not for his older sister, Angelika. She had already joined the Pequannock Piranhas summer team, and Kyle played in the sand as she practiced. Their mother, Maureen Stefanides, had “to chase him all over during the meets.” If Kyle was actually in the water, it would simplify the summer.

Though Kyle loved swimming almost immediately, he remembers his parents saying, “I looked like some kind of dying animal out in the water.”

“When I first started, I was not good at all, but I liked it and I wanted to get better,” said Stefanides, a Pequannock sophomore and the 2012-13 All Daily Record Swimmer of the Year.

“I had a lot of friends there I went to school with, so it was fun to be there with them during the summer. Since we were young, they couldn’t give us that much of a practice. It was like, jump in, do a few laps, and then a cannonball contest or something.”

Stefanides joined the Wayne-based Blue Streaks that fall, and began improving swiftly. His progression only increased after a move to the Lakeland Hills YMCA in 2010. Yet Stefanides remained mostly unknown in high school swimming — even to some of his friends at Pequannock.

That all changed at the Morris County Championships. Stefanides edged Chatham senior Danny Villars to win the individual medley, pulling ahead in the final 25 meters. He also won the backstroke, becoming the first Pequannock boy to win a county title in at least a decade.

“He’s the same kid, fun exciting, always bouncing around, never a dull moment,” Pequannock junior Ed Mann said. “The past few years, he’s made a lot of improvement with swimming. He went from being your regular club swimmer to being hard-core and doing really well.”

Stefanides finished 19th in the backstroke at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions preliminaries in 54.25, the quickest time in the Daily Record area this winter. He also placed fifth in the IM consolation final in 1:59.33, the fastest time by a Morris County swimmer this winter.

Stefanides prefers the backstroke, with “butterfly a close second.” His favorite event is the 200-yard backstroke, because, “I’m able to hold that pace the entire time. In the 100 back, by the end, I’m dead tired and starting to slow down.”

He trains with Lakeland Hills for at least two hours a day, six days a week. He would go straight from high school meets to his club practices during the winter

Stefanides has YMCA national cuts in the 100 and 200 backstroke, 200 IM and 100 butterfly. His younger sister, Isabella, also swims for LHY.

“He really broke out of his shell in a major way,” Pequannock coach Greg Rusciano said. “It came a little sooner than we might have all thought, but that’s not a bad thing.”

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