By the end of the Metros championships last February, Walter Johnson junior Elizabeth Pepper was sapped – both physically and mentally. A pre-meet meal at a burrito chain had wreaked havoc on her stomach. She managed to swim, but not nearly as well as she’d hoped.
“I was just really disappointed,” said Pepper, who thinks she had food poisoning that weekend. “I had a lot of goals going into that meet. I didn’t meet any of them.”
Pepper finished fifth in the 200 freestyle and sixth in the 500 free. “It was really bad,” she admitted. Still, Pepper said she was able to learn from the experience.
“It taught me that I could bounce back from something like that,” she said. “It wasn’t entirely a bad experience.”
Pepper rebounded at the NCSA Junior Nationals in March, finishing third in the 200 freestyle and sixth in the 500 free. She says her disappointing showing at Metros motivated her.
“I didn’t do as well at Metros as I wanted to,” Pepper said. “It kept me focused.”
After the season, Pepper made the All-Met first team and spent time trying to make a college decision. She visited North Carolina, Indiana, Florida and Tennessee before picking Florida State.
“It’s warm, I hate the cold,” Pepper said. “Basically it’s perfect.”
For now, Pepper is focusing on the task at hand: the high school season. Metros is still a few months away, but she’s already excited thinking about the meet.
“If all goes like I’m planning for it to,” she said, “it should be a pretty good year.”
St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes, Bishop Ireton split Alexandria Tri-City meet
St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes had a strong showing at the annual Alexandria Tri-City swim meet Tuesday night as the Saints boys placed first and the girls came in second behind Bishop Ireton in the three-team field. Ireton won the overall meet for the sixth straight year.
The boys’ meet came down to the wire with everything on the line when swimmers lined up for the 400 freestyle relay. Saints junior Ferrel Atkins and freshmen Ian Shackley and Kyle Draim trailed going into the final leg but senior Ryan Gillooly kicked it into high gear for the final 50 yards to out-touch Ireton’s foursome.
The Saints boys placed first in eight of 11 events, starting with the first swim of the night as Gillooly and fellow Conor MacNair and Sam Teague and Atkins easily distanced themselves from the field. McNair swept the 100 fly and 100 breastroke and Shackley was a double-winner in the 200 and 500 freestyle. Other winners for the Saints included Atkins (100 back) and the 200 freestyle relay team of MacNair, Gillooly, Teague and junior Joe Lindsay.
“Their hard work over the last few weeks in practice has paid off,” said Saints Coach Kirsten Gregor.
Bishop Ireton claimed the victory on the girls’ side. The Saints were led by sophomores Lizzie Beane (200 IM) and Marian Shaw (50 free), senior Rachel Movius (100 fly, 100 breast) and freshman Alison Lindsay (500 free).
T.C. Williams also participated in the meet and finished third.
BCC riding high
“We didn’t have a lot of first place finishes, we had a lot of third and fourth places,” senior Chris Garrity said. “We had a lot of breaks go our way and we were able to pull it out. It was nice.”
(Virginia swimming beat reporter Matt Brooks contributed to this report.)