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Pepper spices up MCSL record book

By Preston Williams
Poolesville swimmer Elizabeth Pepper said that she did not realize how old the girls' 15-18 200 freestyle record was until she broke it Tuesday night at the Coaches' Invitational Long Course meet. The meet record had stood since 1986. (Deb Lindsey/for the Washington Post)

Poolesville swimmer Elizabeth Pepper said that she did not realize how old the girls' 15-18 200 freestyle record was until she broke it Tuesday night at the Coaches' Invitational Long Course meet. The meet record had stood since 1986. (Deb Lindsey/for the Washington Post)

Approximately 10 minutes after Poolesville swimmer Elizabeth Pepper broke the Coaches’ Invitational Long Course record Tuesday night in the girls’ 15-18 200 freestyle, a club coach mentioned to her that at the time the previous record was set, many said it would never be broken.

It was at that point that Pepper learned just how old that 200 free record was — 24 years. That made Pepper ‘s time of 2:04.19 all the more satisfying. The she eclipsed by 0.61 seconds the record of 2:04.80 set by Susan Habermas of Damascus nearly a quarter of a century ago in the annual Montgomery County Swim League long course event. That was one of five new meet marks established Tuesday at Rockville Swim Center.

“I wanted to break the record because I was really close last year [2:05.05], but I didn’t know it was so old,” Pepper said. “I just knew that it was the record. There are just so many fast people in this area, so I was surprised someone hadn’t beaten it already. It was kind of mind-blowing.”

The record was tied for the second-longest-standing record in meet history.

Pepper credited good friend Katie Rogers of Quince Orchard for forcing her into a record time. Rogers clocked in at 2:04.85, about four seconds ahead of the third-place finisher.

“She made me go so much faster,” Pepper said. “She just pushes me every time we go against each other. About halfway through, I was looking for people besides Katie to see who was there, but I didn’t see anyone. That’s when I thought, wow, I must be going really fast.”

Sarah Haase of Flower Valley shattered the girls’ 15-18 200 individual medley mark. Her 2:19.63 was more than four seconds faster than the 2:23.96 registered by Leeann Chang of Middlebridge in 2003.

“I was hoping for a 2:20, so 2:19 was even better,” said Haase, who set the meet record for the 13-14 breast in 2008. “It was a bit of a surprise, but I was very happy.

“With Charlotte Meyer and Callie Fosburgh, there were a lot of fast people, so I knew I had to take it out strong like I did. I was definitely feeling it. It burns. Real bad. All over. But that last lap you just have to put your head down and finish.”

Meyer last year set the meet record in the 13-14 IM and Fosburgh in 2004 set the record in the 9-10 50 breaststroke.

The other new marks set Tuesday were in the girls’ 8-under 50 free, the boys’ 9-10 50 breast and the girls’ 13-14 100 free.

Maya Fischer of East Gate and Megan Kenna Sharkey of Potomac Woods each swam the 8-under 50 free in 34.45 seconds to best the 2007 record of 34.68 set by Claudia Gibson of Rockville.

In the boys’ 9-10 50 breast, Robert Qian of Germantown finished in 39.44 seconds to top the 1994 record of 39.98 set by Justin Pratt of Old Farm.

And in the girls’ 13-14 100 free, Katie Ledecky of Palisades turned in a 58.32. Colleen Law of Seven Locks had swum a 58.75 in 2002.

The five records set Tuesday were half the number broken last year at the long course competition, but the evening meet, despite some rain later in the night, was just as exciting as ever, Haase said.

Swimmers are limited to two events, and only the top eight qualify in each event.

“There must have been 10 people behind my lane,” Haase said. “It’s just a great feeling to have so many people there supporting you. It’s not like all the other meets.”

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5 Responses to “Pepper spices up MCSL record book”

  1. swinfan says:

    Katie Ledecky has an unbelivable range for a 13 year old. 58.32 in the 100 and today she went a 17:05 in the 1500 meter almost winning it at senior champs. A 17 year old beat her by only 5 seconds..
    Amazing. I hope we hear more about her.

  2. Happy Dad says:

    Katie is an amazing swimmer and very focused. Also a wonderful person which makes her success all the more enjoyable to watch. I’m sure we’ll be seeing lots of good things from her in the future.

    I was very impressed across the board by all the swimmers on Tuesday night. It seems that every year the athletes keep improving.

  3. NMC Barracuda says:

    amazing swims by the rockville rays swimmers. that neighborhood has been churning out some fast swimmers.

  4. Jah says:

    Lazy writers can’t get out of MD. Cover some NVSL…….

  5. spice says:

    KEEP SPICING IT UP!

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