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)
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.’ “