When it comes to scholastic sports, you hardly ever hear the word dynasty.
But that’s not the case for the Christian Brothers Academy swim team.
Even after losing key swimmers on their roster to graduation last season, that didn’t stop head coach Vito Chiaravalloti from guiding his team to another successful season.
Despite having new swimmers help fill in the holes of the swimmers they lost, the Colts’ depth throughout their squad helped them keep their win streaks alive.
Chiaravalloti said the biggest challenge of the season was keeping his team motivated.
“I think coming into the year we knew we were going to be talented, and had a good chance at repeating as state champions,” Chiaravalloti said. “I wanted to make sure they stayed motivated, and we tried to go beyond the state this year, and swim against LaSalle who are one of the top teams in the country. I wanted to continue to push them, and they responded.”
Chiaravalloti relied on the strength of some of his older, more experienced swimmers, such as senior Josh Berger, while juniors Alex D’Anna, Robert Whitacre, and Stephen Benvenuto returned to play key roles.
They won their fourth straight state championship after defeating Seton Hall Prep, 113-57, and their fifth overall. The Colts won their first title in 1998 when Chiaravalloti was a key swimmer for that team.
“It was more rewarding to win a title as a coach,” Chiaravalloti said. “As a swimmer, you are involved in the meet and you cheer for your teammates, but as a coach I feel a deep responsibility for these guys to make sure that they are prepared and successful. I want them to experience success, and I feel like I swim a lot of races mentally and just with my heart, so it is definitely more rewarding each year coaching these boys to victory.”
The Colts won their 23rd straight Shore Conference Championship, scoring 388 points — 210 more than second-place Toms River High North.
The Colts were winners for the 23rd straight time in the Monmouth County meet with 422 points, well ahead of second-place Marlboro with 201.5. Whitacre, D’Anna, Dean Shafritz and Berger set a meet record in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:37.73.
Aside from extending their win streak in titles, the Colts dominated in the Shore Conference. They won their 23rd straight Class A North and finished with a 13-1 record. Their only loss came from a non-conference meet against LaSalle (Pa.) High School, 96-74, on Dece. 21.
Chiaravalloti’s boys will once again have targets on their backs next season. They will only graduate one key swimmer from their roster this season and will have incoming freshman along with their experienced underclassman back in the pool next year.
Chiaravalloti has over 50 career victories as a head coach since he stepped in for retired coach Mike Sullivan in 2008, and has been busy teaching and building CBA’s swim program ever since.
“I wasn’t looking to get into coaching,” Chiaravalloti said. “I was looking for work after a baseball injury, and I got an email that Mike Sullivan was retiring, and I was interested in the position. I didn’t know at the time that I had a passion for teaching and coaching until I started doing it, so it was completely unexpected. When I got back to CBA I realized I could really make an impact being in these kids lives, and hopefully in some way make them better people.”