Earning the distinction in water polo and swimming, Mestre becomes the first Hill aquatics athlete since 1996 to be named an All-American in both sports.
Throughout his first year at The Hill School, Alfonso Mestre ’19 and his brother, Alberto ’17, motivated each other to complete grueling swimming workouts throughout the year. When Stanford-bound Alberto graduated, Alfonso needed to find a way to push himself during offseason morning workouts. His solution was to envision a faster swimmer ahead of him in the lane.
Each July, the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA) selects the previous year’s All-American swimmers. For the 2018-2019 school year, Mestre was selected as an All-American for four events: the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard freestyle, the 200-yard freestyle, and the 500-yard freestyle, the second-consecutive year he earned All-American distinction in the 500.
Mestre also was named an All-American water polo player, becoming the first Hill aquatics athlete to earn All-American honors in both water polo and swimming in the same year since Leif Kennedy ’96 achieved the feat in the 1995-96 school year.
While he is a naturally gifted athlete, both Hill head swimming coach Amy Agnew and boys’ water polo coach Doug Jones cited Mestre’s work ethic as a trait that elevates him above his peers.
“Alfonso is a tremendous athlete, but his work ethic and poise set him apart,” Jones said. “Despite his gifts, he is humble and very coachable.”
Agnew echoed Jones’ sentiment.
“From his first day on campus as a fourth former, Alfonso exemplified the work ethic necessary to become a record-setter, a Division I athlete, and a role model for his teammates,” Agnew said.
A highly touted swimmer, Mestre had never played water polo prior to his arrival at The Hill in the fall of 2016. The 2016 Hill boys’ water polo team was one of the strongest in program history, and playing daily with older, talented players aided Mestre’s rapid development. He quickly became a well-rounded player who frustrated opponents with his staunch defensive play while also contributing offensively, scoring 151 goals in three seasons.
Mestre’s combination of sprint speed and size was advantageous in helping the team gain possession each game. In water polo, each quarter begins with a swim-off, a play in which both teams line up along the wall on opposing ends of the pool and the referee, positioned at the pool’s midpoint, starts play by dropping the ball into the water. Each team’s fastest swimmer sprints for the ball, with the winner gaining his or her team possession to start the quarter. Throughout the 2018 season, Mestre won every swim-off he contested.
In addition to being undefeated in swim-offs, Mestre led the team with 68 steals, and he contributed 36 assists and 42 goals, none of which were more important than his final goal of the season, the game-winning goal in the Eastern Prep Championship game. For his contributions throughout the championship tournament, Mestre was named to the All-Tournament First Team.
Eleven days after helping The Hill boys’ water polo team to its first Eastern championship since 2002, Mestre signed a National Letter of Intent to swim at the University of Florida, following the footsteps of his father, Alberto ’82.
The Mestre name is well-engrained in The Hill’s swimming record books, and Alfonso graduated having left his name entrenched in the program’s annals. In 2017, he broke the 38-year old school record in the 500 Free, a record he lowered two more times in the next two seasons, earning All-American honors in the event twice. His fastest time in the event, 4:26.73, was third overall at the 2019 Eastern Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships and was the 35th-fastest time in the nation.
Individually, Mestre also set a new school record in the 200 Free in a time of 1:38.73, good for fourth place at Easterns. He is a member of two record-setting relay teams, the 200 Free Relay and the 400 Free Relay. Both records were set during the 2019 Eastern championship with the 200 Relay winning gold and the 400 Relay claiming bronze; coincidentally, Mestre’s brother, Alberto, was on the previous record-holding relays.
In addition to holding two individual records, Mestre is second in the program’s top-10 list in the 50 Free, the 100 Fly, and the 200 Individual Medley, and he is third all-time in the 100 Free (behind his brother and father) and the 100 Back.
Following his record-setting season, the Pottstown Mercury named Mestre the area’s Male Swimmer of the Year, his third All-Area selection which bested his First-Team selection in 2018 and Honorable Mention designation in 2017.