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Swimming: Pinecrest hoping experience pays off in 2019-20
Denise Jordan
Pinecrest Academy swim and dive coach Denise Jordan talks to her team Monday during practice at the Cumming Aquatic Center. - photo by David Roberts

Anthony Birozes started swimming out of necessity.

Now, he does it out of passion. Turns out, he’s pretty good at it.

His swimming career began modestly when he was 5 years old, when his mother walked him to the ledge of the neighborhood pool.

“She literally threw me in the pool,” Birozes said with a laugh. “And I hated it up until middle school. But then I started swimming with Coach (Denise) Jordan, so that was a cool experience for me. That’s when I really improved.”

Birozes, now a senior at Pinecrest Academy, is one of several Paladins who began swimming for head coach Denise Jordan at a young age.

She affectionately refers to this year’s crop as her “dream team”: a tight-knit group that she’s coached since they were in fifth grade.

“On this team, everybody pulls for everybody, and I love it,” Jordan said. “They’re all very humble, but they’re also very talented. And I just love that combination.”

Jordan also coaches Pinecrest’s middle school team, which swims in the Metro 10, a league of private middle schools that compete against one another.

The league allows fifth-graders to compete alongside middle schoolers, giving swimmers such as Birozes a head start.

“It was just a nice transition from middle school into high school,” Jordan said. “And you work with them for that many years, so they know your lingo, they know your expectations. They come to varsity and they’re easier to coach because they already know what you expect from them.”

Birozes finished seventh in the 50 free at last year’s Class 3A-1A state meet. He also placed 11th in the 100 free and was on a 400 free relay team that set a new school record (3.26.45) and finished seventh at the state meet.

The record was actually set when Birozes’ brother, Christopher Birozes, was swimming the 400 free relay for the Paladins. 

“I told him I broke it, and he made some lame excuses,” Anthony Birozes said.

Pinecrest returns every member of that squad, including Anthony Birozes, seniors Mason Carter and Brendan Spillane, and junior Diego Perez.

In fact, after just one meet, a handful of Paladins have already qualified for the state meet.

Anthony Birozes and Carter qualified in the 50 free and 100 free, while the two combined with Spillane and Perez to qualify the 200 free relay team.

“The four of us have been on the team since our freshman year,” Anthony Birozes said. “I think, along with that and the skill set that we have – we broke the Pinecrest record, which has been longstanding for a while. It was actually my brother’s record. It was cool to beat that record. We did pretty well last year, and I’m hoping we do even better this year. This is the same team as last year’s, and now we have one more year of experience.”

Sophomore Mercedes Persichetti, one of two year-round swimmers for Pinecrest, also helped qualify the 200 free relay in the first meet of the season.

Junior Henry Borgerding swam the breaststroke leg of the medley relay, helping to qualify that team.

Pinecrest is looking to build off of last year’s momentum, when they set a school record for swimmers at a state meet.

The Paladins will get a boost from Anthony Birozes if he’s able to accomplish his goal for the season.

“He’s already got the 50-yard record, and this year he’s going after the 100-yard record, which has been held by one of our swimmers from, like, seven years ago,” Jordan said. “So, he’s really going after that. I think he can do it.”

Anthony Birozes said that encouragement is what sets Jordan apart from many of the other coaches he’s had.

“She’s one of the only coaches I’ve experienced that uses positive encouragement instead of negative criticism,” Anthony Birozes said. “She also has a personal relationship with a lot of people, and that’s helped us want to be good.”