New Jersey Edges Philly at Swim Meet

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The Friday night swimming events were dominated by two triple gold medal winners from Providence and New Jersey while four teams battled to win the meet. Before the final coed relay, Jersey, Philly, Boston and Chicago were separated by just three points and all had a chance to win. But Detroit came in to win that relay in record fashion and that allowed the Arsens to win with 25 points. Philadelphia ended up with 24, and the Nejdehs had 23 with the hosts just one behind in fourth. Tied for fifth with 17 points were Providence, led by high scorer Lily Kernaghan, and Glendale, California with Tamar and Vatche Kazanjian. Detroit scored 14 points for seventh while Middlesex West had seven. Racine tallied six points and were one ahead of Washington. North Andover and Manhattan completed the chapter scoring with three and two points respectively.


Lily Kernaghan (Providence) pulling away in the 50 backstroke

Lily Kernaghan from Providence won three events as she did last year. The Varantian flash first won the 50 yard freestyle with a time of 25.25, slightly slower than her 2018 record of 24.75. Chicago’s Ally Devedjian and Tamar Kazanjian took second and third. Kernaghan then took the 50 back in 28.63, but the real battle was for second as veteran Meline Topouzian Berberian (now North Andover) touched out Lucine Mikhanjian (Washington) by 0.1 second. Lily finished her day by recording a 55.00 in the 100 free ahead of Katerina Nalbandian from Boston and Mikhanjian. The women’s events began with the 25 yard freestyle where Devedjian put up a time of 12.53 to get the gold. Racine’s Azniv Khaligian and Araz Dulgarian from Middlesex West won silver and bronze. Ally completed her events by also winning the 25 yard butterfly in 13.09. Kazanjian and Khaligian took second and third. Earlier in the evening, the 50 breaststroke saw the closest women’s race for first place of the evening. Kazanjian took gold in 37.13 while Nalbandian was clocked in at 37.28. A place judge was needed to confirm the victor. Christina Mehranbod won the bronze to record her Manhattan chapter’s only points for the weekend.

Finally, the girls 4 x 25 freestyle relay saw the surprising Middlesex West chapter win in 1:01.25. Greater Boston took second ahead of New Jersey.


A photo finish in the 50 Butterfly won by Aram Barmakian (New Jersey)

In the men’s events, newcomer Aram Barmakian from New Jersey took three golds, but two of them came in the closest men’s races. Barmakian started in the 50 breaststroke touching in 28.53 with 16 year-old Kevork Zeibari from Philly in second and Vatche Kazanjian close behind. Aram then battled defending champion Andrew Devedjian in the 100 free where they recorded times of 53.19 and 53.41. Berj Vartanian of Detroit was third. Finally, Barmakian came from behind to edge Zeibari in the 50 butterfly in 24.97 with Kazanjian in third again. Once again, a place judge had to decide this order of finish. Zeibari had gained some redemption earlier by winning the 50 back in 28.03 as Kazanjian won silver and Boston’s Joe Charchaflian took bronze. The 50 freestyle saw Devedjian defend his sprint title with a time of 23.68 ahead of Armen and Berj Vartanian from Detroit.   

In both of the men’s relays, the order of finish was the same. Philadelphia took the golds, while Greater Boston and New Jersey placed second and third. Philly’s time in the 200 medley event was 2:12.59; in the freestyle relay, they touched in 1:49.41. The final event of the competition was the coed 4 x 50 freestyle relay where all three top teams broke the old AYF record. The Detroit team was the easy winner with their team of two Vartanian brothers, Berj and Armen, and two Topouzian sisters, Knar and Teny. Greater Boston and New Jersey placed second and third.  

The record-setting Detroit co-ed relay team with the Vartanian brothers and Topouzian sisters
Bob Tutunjian

Bob Tutunjian

Bob Tutunjian is president of Vivaproducts, a medical device company in Massachusetts. He has been actively involved with the AYF and the Olympics since 1967 and has written many articles covering this event.
Bob Tutunjian

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