The Sleepy Hollow/Hastings/Edgemont/Irvington girls swim team got the best offseason news possible last week as the 200 freestyle relay from last fall was named All-American with the 62nd ranked high school time in the country.
SHEDI’s top time at the New York State Championships in November was 1:35.56 for the state champion foursome of Ava Franks, Kate Hoesterey, Mikayla Klein and Theresa Milio. Franks is from Irvington, the other three from Edgemont. The girls had won the Section 1 title in a time of 1:37.28.
As an overall team, SHEDI had its best season in team history, winning Section 1 and placing second in New York State. The relays were a major part of that success. The 200 medley relay of Klein, Milio, Elke Ott and Katie Wang — all of Edgemont — set a Section 1 championship meet record of 1:46.7 and placed third in the state in 1:46.23. The 400 free relay was third in the section (3:34.22) and fourth in the state (3:34.47) behind Wang, Edgemont’s Sophia Allan, Hoesterey and Franks.
The girls also compete in individual events at states to showcase their depth.
The makeup of the 200 freestyle relay is interesting because it features a freshman (Hoesterey), two juniors (Franks, Milio) and one senior (Klein), in addition to two of the swimmers being transfers who were new to the team. Hoesterey came to Edgemont schools from private school, while Franks went from Horace Greeley to Irvington.
Klein wrapped up her six-year SHEDI career on top, helping the team build into a powerhouse.
“Mikayla came in as this tiny, quiet seventh-grader who did her thing and I kept asking the girls how she was fitting in,” Saracino said. “They were like, ‘She talks a lot.’ I used to laugh because she would never talk in front of us, but evidently in the locker room she was a little spitfire.”
Klein matured quickly and turned into a “wonderful leader” who is “very caring,” according to Saracino. She always understood the bigger picture of the team concept and would offer the coaches her thoughts.
“That was one of the things we greatly respected about her, it wasn’t, ‘Hey, we have to do it this way,’ but, ‘Can we try it this way?’” Saracino said. “It really was a great opportunity to work with someone who is still so young, but has such an open mind to see it through from start to finish.”
In addition to the team All-American honor, Klein was an Academic All-American. Klein will swim for Washington University in the fall.
Milio has a “very silent hunger to achieve the highest level that her body can possibly achieve,” Saracino said. Saracino enjoys watching Milio push herself to the limit and her decision to attend Navy is something Saracino admires greatly.
“She has been swimming so incredibly and she is just so thrilled with the decision she is making for herself in swimming and educationally,” Saracino said. “She has been talking about going to Navy for years. The fact that she committed halfway through her junior year is just a testament to her determination to move forward in all of her personal goals.”
Milio swam for SHEDI from seventh through ninth grade and returned as a junior. What made becoming an All-American exciting was not expecting it to happen. Now the tone has been set for next year, despite the team losing Klein’s talents.
“We are losing Mikayla, so we’ll see how that goes, but I think there’s a lot of people who can step up this year and help us do well again,” Milio said. “I do know that Tobey wants to win states this year because we were so close last year.”
Milio’s final season will be rewarding no matter what happens as she looks ahead to swimming at the next level.
“I was kind of stuck between two schools at the end and I really liked the team and coaches at Navy, also the opportunities that Navy provides during college and afterwards,” Milio said. “I’d have a job set up and everything. I also like the Patriot League. It’s a pretty competitive conference.”
Hoesterey is another “spitfire,” according to her coach, but she’s a spitfire in front of everyone.
“I think she is the first athlete who I said, ‘I need you to get in the water and I need you to go a 54 in the 100 free,’ and she goes, ‘Pfft, I’m gonna go a 53,’” Saracino said. “I was like, ‘Wait, what?’ It was such an eye-opening moment for me. I knew I was going to like her. She’s got so much to offer and she’s doing very well. I’m thrilled to see how she does moving forward.”
Getting a top swimmer from powerhouse Greeley was a major coup for SHEDI. Franks took some time to get used to her new surroundings, but once she did she was on board 100 percent.
“You could see she was a little bit quiet, a little bit shy starting out, but she became such an amazing presence in the water,” Saracino said.
The biggest change was not seeing the entire team in the hallways at school before a meet. Franks only saw the handful of Irvington swimmers, not the ones from Sleepy Hollow, Hastings or Edgemont.
“It was definitely hard to leave my old team behind,” Franks said. “I was a little bit nervous starting out because I had never really met anyone from Irvington besides a few people I knew from Empire. It was a very smooth transition. After some of my first preseason practices on SHEDI and after some of my first meets I knew I had made the right decisions. I’ve gotten so close with all the coaches and all the girls and I just feel really lucky to be a part of that team.”
Franks had been “part of some really good relays” at Greeley that did well in sectionals and states, but the SHEDI relay topped them all.
“It’s so cool to have an achievement with them because I’m now so close with all of them,” Franks said. “To share that moment and those experiences is so awesome. We all push each other and we all want the best for our team. That makes us go really fast.”
Since the beginning of the preseason the coaching staff of Saracino, Clare Carr and Stephanie Schilling were thinking about and tweaking relay lineups into the regular season and postseason.
“It became such a tight-knit group and even though it’s four people that get in the water, we’re swimming as one — one team, one school called SHEDI — and we’re going to achieve this as one group,” Saracino said. “That was incredible. There’s only so much coaches can do, but once you give them the information you can you kind of hand it over and see what they’re going to do with it. This group took it and ran with it. It was some of the most impressive swimming I’ve seen in high school in a long time.”
Saracino added, “Being a high school All-American in any sport is no joke.”