“This was the smallest team I’ve ever taken to a state meet.  I didn’t think it was even possible with only six swimmers and two divers,” said Van Slooten after the shocking victory, “All the other teams easily doubled us in numbers.”

The FUMA Blue Devils traveled to Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center Manassas on February 14 for the two-day event.  They went head to head with qualifiers from twenty-six other private high school teams throughout the state of Virginia, hoping to defend their 2013 title of State Champions.  Not only did they succeed at this mission, senior, Ali Khalafalla, broke a total of five state records during the weekend, later to be named the meet’s “Most Outstanding Swimmer.”

Of the twelve total records that were broken at the state meet, Egypt native, Ali Khalafalla broke a total five of them.   He finished his high school swimming career with an astounding 44.81 second swim in the Men’s 100 yard Freestyle event, taking first place in the event and breaking his state record from last year by almost half a second. He was in the lead from the very beginning and finished the race with what the commentators called, “one of the fastest times in the entire nation in high school.”

His plan not to take any breaths during his 50 yard swims paid off when Khalafalla achieved personal bests every time he finished that distance throughout the weekend. The FUMA senior set his first 50 yard freestyle state record during the prelims on Friday with a time of 20.60 and proceeded to defeat his own records the next three times he swam the 50.  He took first place in the Men’s 50 yard freestyle in an incredible 20.39 seconds, only to break that record with a split time of 20.37 in his leg of the Men’s 200 yard Freestyle Relay.

Wearing hoodies and tinted goggles, Seniors Spenser Cavotti, Nathaniel Bennett, Zachary Romeo, and Ali Khalafalla looked like a force to be reckoned with as they marched to the starting blocks for the Men’s 200 Freestyle Relay.  They looked tough and acted tough as they muscled their way to one of two first place relay wins with an All-American Consideration time of 1:25.82.  Another heavy point scoring relay with an All-American Consideration time was the Blue Devils’ 200 yard Medley Relay, consisting of Ian Milburn (Backstroke), Karim ElSayed (Breaststroke), Nathaniel Bennett (Butterfly), and Zachary Romeo (Freestyle), finishing in third place.

FUMA collected even more points during the individual events when Karim ElSayed placed third in the 100 yard Breaststroke and fifth the 100 yard Butterfly.  Joining him in ranks of top three swimmers was Ian Milburn with the third-fastest swim in the 100 yard Backstroke and Spenser Cavotti with a third place finish in the 100 yard Breaststroke.

With the exception of Nathaniel Bennett, the small group of Fork Union athletes had all experienced swimming at the state Level.  Also traveling to Manassas with this elite group of men were divers, Bethea Brindley and Rasheed Jones, both scoring points in the top ten.  Jones had an eighth place result and Brindley placed tenth in his state debut.

“These young men conduct themselves as champions in and out of the water.  They represented FUMA with pride,” states Coach Van Slooten about his state team.  These extraordinary athletes all maintain grade point averages above 3.5 at the academy and plan to attend and swim at the collegiate level, with Ali Khalafalla received multiple scholarships offers to top-notched schools.

As Khalafalla, Milburn, ElSayed and Cavotti strode across the deck to start their 400 yard Freestyle relay, commentators for the final event had already figured out the group would clench the title by a meager one point over St. Christopher’s, stating, “Fork Union needs to win this if they want to win the team title.”

“He swims huge!” The commentators exclaimed as Ali Khalafalla took control of the race with a split time of 45.43, less than one second shy of his earlier 100 yard record time.   FUMA continued to dominate the race throughout the remaining three legs of the event with Spenser Cavotti out touching the second place finisher by nearly two seconds, giving FUMA the top time of 3.10:51.

“Fork Union is too far out front… They can start celebrating the title now!” the commentators declared during the last 50 of Cavotti’s anchor leg of the relay.  There was no hope of any of the other teams catching the Blue Devils as they reached the wall for a remarkable defense of last year’s state title by just one point.  Last year, Ali Khalafalla mentioned it was only the beginning for him and the other Fork Union Swimmers.  The small group of “huge” swimmers affirmed that, as they brought home another remarkable victory and took one more step into the promising future.

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