MCSL swimmers take the long way

MCSL swimmers
take the long way

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Tilden Woods swimmer Garrett Powell considers himself more of a distance swimmer than a sprinter, which should serve him well Tuesday night in the Coaches’ Invitational Long Course meet. (Courtesy of Powell family)
Tilden Woods swimmer Garrett Powell considers himself more of a distance swimmer than a sprinter, which should serve him well Tuesday night in the Coaches’ Invitational Long Course meet. (Courtesy of Powell family)

The Coaches’ Invitational Long Course meet can intimidate younger Montgomery County Swim League swimmers, inspire older ones and tire out many of them, with the event distances double the length of those at a typical meet.

The 36th running of the long course meet is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Rockville Swim Center, complete with all the usual flourishes, including the evening start time and, most likely, a boisterous, shoe-horned crowd.

Swimmers are limited to entering two events, and there are only eight competitors in each, half the size of the all-star meet.

“It’s so exciting and so fast it’s ridiculous,” said Tilden Woods swimmer Sidney Drill, an alternate in the girls’ 15-18 200 freestyle who will stick around even if she is not competing so she can cheer on her friends. “I’ve seen some people do some incredible things. The atmosphere is so exciting that people shed time.”

“I think the older kids really appreciate it,” Woodley Gardens coach Clay Miller said, “and the younger kids don’t know what they’re getting into. The seedings sometime don’t mean anything because some of the winter kids enjoy the distances more so they’re going to excel at this and some of the summer kids have trouble with the longer distances. There’s no turn in the middle of that lane. You’re going all the way.”

Country Glen coach Geoff Schaefer recalls one of his fastest swimmers a few years ago learning the hard way that the long course meet awards endurance and can punish sprinters.

“He was in first place at the first wall and dead last by the last wall,” Schaefer said. “It separates those who have been training with long course vs. those swimming MCSL for the fun of it.”

Tilden Woods’s Garrett Powell, who is seeded third in the boys’ 15-18 200 free and 200 back, has trained for long course, so he’s all for the elongated format.

“I like the longer distances — that’s just how my body works,” Powell said. “I’m better at longer distances and not that good at sprinting. I’m definitely in shape for long course.”

Being in shape is only part of the challenge. You also have to qualify. Bannockburn’s Danielle Schulkin , seeded third Tuesday in the girls’ 15-18 butterfly, twice was an alternate for the long course meet and showed up not knowing whether she was going to get to compete.

“Oh, it’s horrible,” she said. “I remember that very clearly. The letdown of not swimming — you don’t know what to do with all that added energy.”

Schulkin on Tuesday could challenge the long course record of 1:02.57 in the 100 fly; she has swum a 1:02.52. Pamela Minthorn of Darnestown set the mark in 1990. The oldest meet record is in the girls’ 13-14 fly, set in 1983 by Kelly Davies of Ashton.

Ten meet records fell last season:

Timmy Ellett (Tilden Woods) in the boys’ 8-under 50 freestyle (32.73) and 50 breast (44.23)

Grant Goddard (Palisades) in the boys’ 11-12 100 fly (1:07.08)

Lauren James (Poolesville) in the girls’ 11-12 200 individual medley (2:32.58)

Caroline McTaggart (Chevy Chase Recreation) in the girls’ 11-12 100 free (1:00.62)

Jack Conger (Flower Valley) in the boys’ 13-14 100 back (59.15) and 100 fly (57.75)

Charlotte Meyer (Carderock Springs) in the girls’ 13-14 200 IM (2:24.40)

Brady Fox (Hallowell) in the boys’ 15-18 200 free (1:54.43)

Kaitlin Mills (Potomac Woods) in the girls’ 15-18 200 back (2:19.14)

Drill, for one, knows that she will see some tightly contested races whether she happens to be in one of them or not.

“Even when you don’t get in, I don’t feel slow because I know that it’s so fast and that it’s really hard to get into,” she said. “If it was all-stars or something and you didn’t get in, it’s, ‘Oh, gosh, then I must have been dogging it.’ “



  1. Brady Fox is swimming? Good luck to him!! Hadnt heard much from this very talented swimmer the past year (not sure if it was health or the program) so I am hoping this is a sign of good things to come and I wish him the best of luck!

  2. The ten meet records listed above were all from last year’s meet. The article did not mention any new records which were made last night in a stormy weather.

  3. Brady Fox was not in last night’s meet. Do not know if Preston was at the meet or not and where he got that information?

  4. first time i’ve gone to coaches longcourse in awhile. it’s amazing to see how far Rockville has come. They were in H division back in my day. The surrounding neighborhood must have a ton of young families. Darius Truong and Nick Karayianis are some good homegrown talent.

  5. Results from last night’s Coaches Long course are posted here

    Despite the rain, there were some records set:
    Sarah Haase, Flower Valley, 15-18 girls 200m IM
    Maya Fisher (East Gate) & Megan Kenna Sharkey (Potomac Woods) in 8 & under girls 50 free
    Katie Ledecky, Palisades13-14 girls 100m free
    Elizabeth Pepper, Poolesville, 15-18 girls 200m free
    Robert Qian, Germantown, 9-10 boys 50 breast

  6. I don’t know if a bunch of you don’t read the article, but it CLEARLY says “Ten meet records fell last season”. That’s right. LAST season. So don’t start complaining that it doesn’t say anything about THIS season. I’m pretty sure this was written before the meet was swum.

  7. Sorry we’ll be a day late with the MCSL meet story. Preston had to go up to Baltimore today to do the Phelps story. We’ll have a story on the MCSL meet up by Thursday afternoon. As always, please feel free to post your stories on your team pages and send them to We welcome submissions from the swimming community.

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