VIRGINIA BEACH — Last year at the Virginia AAA swim and dive championships, Oakton senior K.J. Park started early in two relays, disqualifying his teams and — in his mind — costing the Cougars a shot at the state title. So going into Saturday’s state meet at the Princess Anne Recreation Center in Virginia Beach, Park said he felt a lot of stress as he looked to erase the painful memories from last year.
Park did more than that, winning two individual titles — breaking one state record and nearly snapping a national mark set by Ed Moses in 1998 — and also turning in a tremendous split in a national-record breaking 400 freestyle relay to lead Oakton to its first-ever boys’ state swim championship.
“I’ve been working a lot on my relay starts and stuff,” said Park, laughing. “The whole year I couldn’t get over that I disqualified two of my relays and lost the state title. So I’m really glad I had a chance to pay it back.”
The Cougars’ win snapped the Robinson boys’ seven-year reign atop the state. But while one streak ended for the Rams, another started as the girls captured a second consecutive championship. Fittingly, the girls’ team rushed under the arms of a tunnel set up by the boys to take the trophy.
Robinson took the title in dominating fashion, finishing with 227.5 points, ahead of Langley (166), Osbourn (127) and Oakton (118).
In a meet in which the national high school short-course meters records were expected to fall — most states swim short-course yards — it didn’t take long for a new mark set to be set.
Langley’s 200-meter medley relay of Stephen Richards, Chuck Katis, Ryan Natal and Chris Pivik opened the meet by smashing their own record, set in the preliminaries on Friday, with a time of 1 minute 45.38 seconds, just ahead of Oakton’s 1:45.98, which also broke the previous record. The mark was one of 13 state and six national records turned in on the night. (Watch the Saxons relay.)
In one of the more impressive swims of the early portion of the meet, Oakton All-Met senior Bradley Phillips smashed the state record by almost two seconds in the 200 freestyle. Phillips held off Washington-Lee‘s Freddy Crawford (1:52.78) to set the new mark at 1:51.60, just two hundredths of a second shy of the national record. Later, Phillips topped the 400-meter freestyle national record by nearly three seconds with a time of 3:54.88.
“I didn’t really know I was .02 off until the medal ceremony,” said Phillips, who will swim at the University of Virginia. “I got the first place, that’s pretty good, but I really wanted the national record. I have not had one of those before so that was my goal going into the race. Just that and score points for my team, so I’m really pleased with that swim.”
Park knocked off a state mark in the 200 individual medley — a race in which the top three spots were separated by less than five-tenths of a second — with a time of 2:04.40. He then fell just two-tenths of a second short of Moses’s state and national mark in the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:03.59.
Oakton All-Met junior Kaitlin Pawlowicz also had two very impressive swims.
After falling just short of the 200 individual medley national mark of 2:19.30 in preliminaries, Pawlowicz shattered the mark on Saturday, taking the title in 2:16.39 — almost three seconds ahead of the record and more than three seconds in front of her nearest competitor. (Watch the race.) Pawlowicz also won the 100 butterfly in 1:03.27. (See Pawlowicz talk about her two races.)
Fairfax‘s Joey Kelly won the 50- and 100-meter freestyle titles, setting a state record in the 50 in 23.67. (That mark was later bested by W.T. Woodson’s Kevin Vest, who led off the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 23.64.)
Langley’s girls 200 freestyle relay of Meghan Overend, Jayme Katis, Megan Howard and Abi Speers set a state and national record with a time of 1:48.94, downing the previous mark of 1:49.04 set by Yorktown in 2007. (Watch it here.)
Repeat champ: Another Robinson streak started this week as sophomore diver Cory Bowersox won a second-consecutive state diving title, smashing the state record with a score of 540.25. Fairfax junior Kelli Stockton won the girls’ title with a score 445.10.
Other winners: Battlefield’s Nick Tremols won the 100 butterfly (56.24) and Woodson’s boys’ set a state record with times of 1:36.59. Mountain View’s Josh Friedel won the 100 backstroke (56.89), West Springfield’s SinHye Won won the 100 breaststroke (1:11.54) and Osbourn’s girls’ 400 freestyle relay closed the night with a win in 3:59.07.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We are not surrently able to filter the times from this meet among the area’s top times because it was conducted in a meter pool. Very soon we hope to convert the times and do so with a note that indicates that they are converted times.
Tags: AAA Northern Region, Abi Speers, Battlefield, Bradley Phillips, Concorde District, Fairfax, Kaitlin Pawlowicz, Langley, Mountain View, Nick Tremols, Oakton High School, Osbourn, Robinson, Virginia High School Swimming, W.T. Woodson, Washington-Lee, West Springfield