The state’s best high school swimmer is only a sophomore, but his coach says he’s already in the “top echelon” of swimmers at a school that has had a little bit of success in the pool over the years.
Salesianum’s Alex Elder swept to mutiple medals in this year’s state championship meet, taking gold in the 100 breast (57.82) and 200-yard Individual Medleys (1:52.72) as well as two team relays.
Elder helped Sallies establish a new state record with the team’s first-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay, with a time of 1:35.10, eclipsing the previous mark of 1:36.62 also set by Salesianum in 2011. Also swimming this year for Sallies in the medley relay: Tommy Janton, Justin Fitzpatrick and Ryan Kelly.
And Elder anchored the 400-yard freestyle relay at States, leading his team to a school-record pace of 3:15.
“Alek did a great job for us this year,” said Salesianum coach Chip Hanning. “He was a key ingredient to our team’s success. He was easy to coach. He didn’t work out with us all the time because he was with the Delaware Swim Team. But he would come to school practices once a week. He’s versatile. He can swim any event and he’ll do anything it takes to win the meet.”
Hanning knows a thing or two about great swimming – he’s just finished his 20th year at the perennial powerhouse Sallies, and was previously at Brandywine HS for seven years before.
Elder won the two individual events and helped pace the medley relay to a state record in the preliminaries with a time of 1:35.10 besting a time of 1:36.60 set in 2011. The performances earned the 10th grade Elder recognition as state Swimmer of the Year.
“I was thrilled to be named Swimmer of the Year,” he told us. “At the beginning of the year, I started thinking about it [Swimmer of the Year] as a goal for myself. So I’m really happy.”
Elder, who has been in the pool since he was two or three, says this was an important season for him to perform well.
“This year was a big year for me training wise because this summer I’ll be able to look at colleges for recruitment. So, I knew training had to be big. I made sure to train really hard, I ate well and got the proper rest. I would love to swim in college.”
Elder credits his father for helping keep him in tip-top shape, saying he makes scratch dinners and always provides healthy lunch and snacks. “He makes sure I’m eating the proper nutrients and makes sure I get enough sleep. I ultimately just try to make my healthy choices on a regular basis.”
Alek has racked up 12 Championship medals in three years at States. This was his third time swimming the 200 IM at States; he finished 3rd as an 8th grader, 2nd as a freshman last year and 1st this year. Swimming in the 100 Breast as an 8th grader, he finished 2nd. And last year he swam the 100 Backstroke, finishing 1st.
The young swimmer was also selected by U.S. Swimming to attend Eastern Zone Select Camp and was named the Suburban Swim League Outstanding Male Swimmer in 2016, 2017, 2018 and High Point Award Winner 2016-2019. He’s grown up winning countless blue ribbons over the summer at the Westminster pool, where he also lifeguards.
The Sals are packed with talent again this year, and Tommy Janton – also a Salesianum sophomore, also part of the State Championship Medley team – was in the running for Swimmer of the Year as well. Janton broke 50 seconds in butterfly and backstroke, and his time in backstroke was a Sallie’s school record – 49.78. And he anchored the Sals 400-freestyle relay.
“They’re both great kids, great competitors and teammates. It’s great to have them both on our team with two more years to swim for us,” said coach Hanning, who himself was named the Delaware Sports Writers and Broadcasters State of Delaware Coach of the Year.
“Tommy’s an outstanding swimmer for sure and was certainly in contention for Swimmer of the Year,” agreed Elder.
Swimming fans – but maybe not opposing teams – are lucky to have these two stars in the pool for another two years.