Matt Chan has seen a lot of success in his four years on the West Windsor-Plainsboro High North swim team, but the best was saved for last.
“To be honest, I don’t really know what I was expecting coming into this,” said the Knights senior. “This is much better than I could have anticipated.”
The addition of several strong swimmers—along with the return of dependable veterans like Chan—has helped push the Knights to new heights. WW-P North won its first 10 dual meets before finally running into a deeper Lawrence team on Jan. 16.
“I felt that everyone had pretty strong swims,” said Chan, who won the 100-meter breaststroke and swam a leg of the winning 200 freestyle relay against Lawrence. “It was that Lawrence was simply stronger. But overall, everyone did well in their events. There was no one event that changed the course of the meet. Really Lawrence was very strong.”
WW-P North closed its regular season 11-1, the first time its boys team has won all but one dual meet in the regular season, but the Knights have been trending up over Chan’s career. Two years ago, the Knights were 9-1-1 at the close of the regular season.
“My sophomore year, we had something similar to this,” Chan said. “Matt Lequang and Dan Wong were on the team, we were extremely strong as a team. I feel like this is surpassing that. This is the best the team has been in many years.”
The buzz around WW-P North started even before practices did. The Knights already had a good core returning, and to it they would be adding some talented newcomers.
“I think every year there’s going to be new swimmers and new potential,” Chan said. “This year, a lot of the swimmers that were going to be joining, I knew the caliber of their swims. I’ve seen them in club meets before.”
Tobias Cahnbley came out for the team for the first time this year as a sophomore, and a talented freshman class led by front-line swimmers Crosby Davidson, Clement Rizzo and Jimmy Zhen has bolstered the Knights.
“Even though we’ve had some fast kids in the past, and we’ve had some strong teams, I think this is all-around one of the deeper teams we’ve had,” said Knights head coach Todd Robinson.
The Knights head into the championship portion of the season full of confidence and potential.
The team finished in third place, behind Notre Dame and Pennington in the Mercer County Championships on Jan. 27. The North girls’ team finished in first place. The state tournament gets underway on Tuesday, Feb. 6.
Chan has been a reliable points winner for the Knights since his arrival as a freshman. WW-P North will look to him again for contributions in the postseason.
“Matt’s been with us four years,” Robinson said. “His sister (Lauren) joined the team this year as a freshman. Matt’s a really versatile guy. He’s really a breaststroker, but he’s strong in all four strokes.”
Chan is headed to New York University next year where he will pursue a degree in economics. He also may walk on to the swim team. He’s happy with the way his scholastic swim career has unfolded. Not every club swimmer does high school swimming, but it’s been something that Chan, who also swims for the Hamilton Aquatics Club team run by Sue Welsh, has valued.
“I’ve done it for four years because I feel a four-year varsity sport and committing to the high school experience is fun and it would be a good experience and one to remember,” Chan said. “Balancing the two hasn’t been a problem for me.”
The Knights ask their club swimmers to give them a firmer commitment than just showing up for meets. It’s helped them grow tighter and pull harder for each other.
“The club kids for the most part have done a great job of fulfilling that commitment and showing their dedication to the team by making those practices and truly being a part of the team,” Robinson said.
Chan’s role in the pool hasn’t changed. He has done largely the same strokes for WW-P North each year, but his status on the team has evolved along with the team.
“I’m definitely more appreciative of the whole experience than I was three years ago,” Chan said. “The environment around each year has changed with each class of graduating seniors. Now that I’m a senior, it puts me in a role to be a leader or kind of a role model just as the previous seniors were for me.”
Winning, too, has been consistent over Chan’s four years. The seniors have shared bountiful victories, and this year they have helped to make history for the boys in a grand send-off.
“For a last year, it’s definitely fantastic to be able to swim with such a strong team,” Chan said. “It’s a great experience. And it’s one of my best years for my four years of high school swimming.”