Exeter girls swimmers seize New England crown

Big Red captures the program's 17th New England title; boys finish fourth. 

Brian Muldoon
March 5, 2023
Phillips Exeter Academy Swimming

Big Red girls varsity swimming separated themselves from the pack, claiming the program's first title since 2012. 

The Exeter girls varsity swim team pulled away from a talented, 12-team field to win the New England Division I Championship.

Big Red outpointed 11 rivals with an impressive 92.5 points separating them from the runner-up, Andover.

First place has been a familiar spot for girls swimming. In the 50 years of girls competing in the New England Prep School Swimming Association, Exeter has won at least a share of the New England title 17 times. This year marks Big Red’s first title since a trio of championships from 2010 to 2012.

Big Red boys swimming, who claimed fourth overall at the championships, continued a run of excellence of their own. The Exeter boys have posted a top-four finish in at least 31 of the past 32 seasons, dating back to 1991. The boys program has won 15 titles.

“I’m so proud of our team,” said girls head coach Nicole Benson. “What a remarkable team experience in what was a remarkable year. Many kudos to our seniors, Claire Fu ’23, Amy Benson ’23 and Nat Kpodonu ’23 for building a team and building a legacy, and for leaving our program better than when they arrived — a true mark of non sibi.”

Mena Boardman ’26 helped lead the way. The prep star set a school record in the 50 free with a time of 22.67 while also claiming first in the 100 free with a time of 50.37.

Brianna Cong ’25 claimed a New England title in the 100 butterfly with a time of 54.97 while finishing second overall in the 100 backstroke, touching the wall at 55.52.

Audrey Zhang ’24 broke the oldest mark left on the Exeter record board when she finished the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.57, good enough for third place overall. The previous school record was set by Malindi Davies ’94 in 1993. Zhang also earned a third-place finish in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:07.26.

Big Red also proved to be a dominant force in relays, winning the 200 medley relay, 200 free relay and 400 free relay. The 400 free team of Sophie Phelps ’25, Cong, Amy Benson and Boardman shaved two seconds off their record-setting performance at Easterns and closed the meet with a school-best mark of 3:25.72.

Boardman, Zhang, Cong and Vedika Amin ’24 won the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:45.01 in the first event of the day while Amin, Chloe Bosma ’26, Phelps, and Amy Benson teamed up to capture the 200 free relay with a time of 1:37.52.

On the boys side, Ethan Guo ’25 claimed a New England title in the 100 backstroke with a time of 49.80. Guo also finished second in the 200 free when he touched at 1:40.09.

After placing second in Saturday’s prelims, Henry Liu ’23 swam to a New England title in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 55.08.

Guo, Liu, Lang Gou ’25 and Rudd Day ’25 earned third place in the 200 medley relay, finishing at 1:33.32. The 200 free relay team of Day, Michael Yang ’24, Andrew Van De Water ’23 and Patrick McCann ’23 claimed fourth overall with a time of 1:25.59 while Guo, Van De Water, Liu, and Zach Quitkin ’23 swam to third in the 400 free relay.