The best of the Montgomery County Swim League was on display at Rockville Municipal Swim Center last night at the 33rd Coaches Invitational Long Course meet.
The top eight swimmers in each individual event competed against each other in the late-season all-star meet. The swimmers certainly proved they were the league’s elite, setting new Montgomery County Swim League records all night.
Lauren James, 12, of Poolesville set the meet record in the night’s second event, finishing the girls’ 12-and-under 200-meter individual medley in 2:32.58. Carderock Spring’s Charlotte Meyer, 14, did the same just two events later, in the girls 13-14 200-meter IM, shaving almost two seconds off the record with her 2:24.40 finish.
Tilden Woods’ Timmy Ellet, 8, set the record in the 8-and-under 50-meter freestyle with a time of 32.73, as did Caroline McTaggart, 12, of the Chevy Chase Recreation Association in 11-12 100-meter free with a time of 1:00.62 (Katie Ledecky, 12, of Palisades finished second in the race and also broke the existing record with her time of 1:00.97). Hallowell swimmer Brady Fox, 18, set a record in the 15-18 200-meter free, finishing in 1:54.53. He also lost a record when Flower Valley’s Jack Conger, 14, bested Fox’s old record in the 13-14 100-meter backstroke with a time of 59.15. Conger later broke another of Fox’s old records, in the 13-14 100-meter butterfly, with a time of 57.75. Palisades swimmer Grant Goddard, 12, broke the record in the 11-12 100-meter fly, finishing in 1:07.08, while Potomac Woods’ Kaitlin Mills, 17, broke the record in the 15-18 200-meter backstroke with a time of 2:19.14. (Woodley Gardens’ Ashleigh Ferguson, 15, also broke the record, finishing second with a time of 2:21.06).
“This is fastest meet besides metros, it’s literally the fastest of Montgomery County’s swimmers,” Mills said. “It shows that all our hard work pays off for something.”
Mills said that the meet was more intense than others because it is in the long-course format, meaning that it is swum in a 50-meter pool, rather than the 25-meter pool used for every other MCSL competition. All of the events are doubled, meaning that swimmers must work harder than usual to finish and to win.
“Everything is doubled, so it’s a much tougher challenge for the swimmers,” organizer Martin Cohen said. “You see some varying times and seeding changes because of it.”
The organizers use the long-course format for this event so swimmers could use their times to qualify for USA Swimming national meets and teams. It makes for a much more important meet than usual, according to Flower Valley swimmer Sarah Haase, 15.
“This is more serious,” Haase said. “It’s not so much team-oriented. It’s more about who’s first or who’s fastest.”
The MCSL also recognized its introductory Hall of Fame class Tuesday night. The league, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, honored 32 of its founders, notable volunteers, coaches and swimmers with plaques. It was the first time back for some people who had been associated with the league long ago.
“It means a great deal for me to be here, see Bill Bullough, Clay Britt, people who were there then that are here today,” league founder Stan Tinkham said, as he looked around the room at the honorees. “That was such a fun time in my life.”
Tinkham, the 1956 U.S. Olympic swim team coach, said that he marveled at the organization of the league, and how efficiently it is run for such a large institution.
“We had 350 kids back then,” he said. “Now to see how important it is, how big it is — it’s an exciting time.”