All too often, accompanying the excitement and nerves of summer swimming’s opening week is a bit of early-season rust, especially understandable for younger swimmers who may be competing for the first time in months.
But that wasn’t the case in the Prince William Swim League on Saturday.
While the league records held, team records were victimized all day long.
Swimming the 15-18 boys 50M backstroke, Mike Hudgins, 18, of the Brookside Hurricanes, pushed along by the effort of Ben Lomond’s James Crabb, (29.31), etched his name into his team’s record book (29.19). Hudgins and Crabb contributed the league’s top two times in the event for the weekend. Additionally, Hudgins combined with Scott Heckathorn, 15, Zachary Webb, 15, and Myrick Rachocki, 18, to set Hurricane records in the 200 medley (2:05.31) and 200 freestyle (1:49.16) relays. Brookside ultimately won the meet, setting the pace in the Green Division at 1-0 while dropping Ben Lomond to a 0-1 mark behind Old Bridge in the Black Division.
Victoria Coughlin, 14, swimming for the Ridgewood Barracudas, proved herself the class of the PWSL’s 13-14 50M freestyle, so far. The namesake of American swimming royalty, Coughlin was the only competitor in her age group to break the 30-second barrier (29.46), league wide. Meanwhile, her teammate, Emily Kelly, 14, turned in the league’s top time in the 50M backstroke (32.96) and the 50M butterfly (32.04).
“Both [Coughlin and Kelly] are dynamic swimmers, and both in their very own way,” said Ridgewood second-year head coach Cindy Woll.
“In general, I was very pleased with everyone’s performance. I was extremely excited about our butterfly and IM,” said Woll. “That’s what I think secured [the victory] and got us the most points.”
Despite the loss, Sharks swimmers provided a number of highlights, including a handful of team records. Savannah Nash, 10, (50 free, 34.75; 100 IM, 1:30.32; 25 fly, 17.59) and Morgan Mugnolo, 13, (100 IM, 1:13.25; 50 back, 33.65; 50 breast, 38.94) each accounted for three team records and set the tone for impressive seasons. With new housing developments springing up across the western part of the county – meaning an influx of young swimmers – the growth and improvement of teams like Dominion Valley will continue to be a trend for years to come.
True to form, Sudley opened the season without missing a beat, picking up its 81st consecutive victory and topping the best-times chart. Fulfilling the predictions of head coach Dennis Miller, Henry Campbell, 14, and Sydney Craft, 7, were nothing short of spectacular in the win. Campbell posted three PWSL-best times (50 fly, 29.85; 100 IM, 1:09.19; breast, 34.80) while Craft emerged from the crowded 8-and-under girls division with the top time in the 25 freestyle (19.02).
- Taylor Knight
Stonegate starts strong
Last year, the Mill Creek Towne Marlins and the Stonegate Serpents battled in the Montgomery County Swim League’s Division B. The Marlins eked out a win by just 10 points and the division title by only 32. But at their first dual meet of the 2011 season, the Serpents struck back, winning 448-343 in a Division A meet on Saturday.
Mill Creek Towne put up a strong defense, particularly with its 15-18 year-old girls, who broke the 200 medley relay pool record with a time of 2:08.60. Teammates Catherine Mulquin and Caroline Clark swept the top two spots in the 100 free, 100 back, 100 IM, and 50 fly, with Mulquin winning the 100 free and 100 back and Clark taking the 100 IM and 50 fly.
For Mulquin and Clark, the 50 fly is the most exciting race of the meet.
“You never really know what is going to happen or who will win that day,” said Mulquin, who finished second in 31.03 to Clark’s 30.42 in the 50 fly.
“A lot of kids swam winter who didn’t swim before,” Stonegate Coach Brian Cheng said. “Some people were thinking about leaving the team, but now they are making all-stars.”
Those efforts helped put the Marlins off to a winning start in its first season competing in the league’s strongest division.
“I’m excited about the upcoming season,” Cheng said afterward. “We are in uncharted territory.”
Little more than one mile separates Potomac from River Falls, and the two C-Division teams provided one of the closest matchups on the MCSL’s opening weekend. Potomac edged River Falls, 399.5-390.5, on Saturday to capture neighborhood bragging rights.
“River Falls has never swum Potomac in an A meet, just B meets, since I’ve been on the team, so both teams have been dying to swim each other for years,” said assistant coach Pat Weitzel, who is swimming his 12th and final season for River Falls.
The addition of Victoria Kuhn, an honorable mention All-Met at Whitman in the winter, bolstered River Falls’s lineup. Kuhn won three of her four individual events in the 15-18 age group, and she helped River Falls to its only relay win of the morning. The 15-18 River Falls boys swept the 100m breaststroke.
However, Potomac squeaked out the win with key victories in numerous events.
Fifth-year Potomac Coach Chris Schlegel praised his 13-14 girls, who faced some of the closest races of the meet.
Potomac displayed remarkable depth in the 13-14 boys age group, and Colin Asbury (15-18 boys) had an outstanding meet with victories in the free, back, IM, and fly. Potomac’s Noah Pereles (11-12 boys) also won every time that he dived in the water.
Potomac took three of the four relays. In the girls graduated 175m freestyle relay, 8-and-under anchor Rocio Canedo held off River Falls’ Lia Harrison by less than one tenth of a second to win the final event for Potomac.
Elsewhere, several MCSL swimmers got off to strong individual starts, posting top times in multiple events.
Chevy Chase Recreation 14-year-old Caroline McTaggart established a new league record for her age group in the 50 free (26.87). She beat the old mark, established by Colleen Law of Seven Locks in 2002, by 0.27 seconds and later posted the league’s best time in the 50 fly for the week (29.94).
Upper County‘s Emily Wang showed no problem with moving up an age group this season, pacing all league swimmers in the 11-12 age group in the 50 back (33.22), 50 fly (32.45) and 100 IM (1:13.58). The 11-year-old’s time in the 50 free was just behind Westleigh‘s Claudia Gibson for the top spot in that event.
Palisades‘s Grant Goddard, 14, was the only swimmer to post the best mark in four different events (50 free, 50 back, 50 fly, 100 IM) to help his team to a win against Seven Locks. Matt Thomas, an 18-year-old from Manor Woods, finished with the top times in boys’ 15-18 in the 50 fly, 100 IM and 100 free.
- Dani Schulkin, Michael Ledecky and Eric Detweiler
PMSL Division D provides drama
Prince-Mont Swim League‘s Division D got the season off to a thrilling start with a pair of opening-week meets decided on the final relay.
Fort Washington‘s girls’ 200-meter free relay of Madison Tompkins, Gabrielle Stevenson, Akeyla Holley and Gabrielle Griffin finished in 2:18.84, beating Smallwood Village‘s top team by nearly three seconds to clinch a meet that was tied heading into the last event.
After trailing early in the race, the Sharks surged ahead on the race’s final two legs to complete the three-point victory.
“Both teams were on their feet yelling and screaming,” Fort Washington Coach Marty Stewart said. “It was just a very competitive meet the whole way, and it was very exciting to win.”
For Griffin, 15, swimming the anchor leg on the deciding relay provided a fitting close to an impressive first meet in the league’s oldest age group. She also won the 50-meter butterfly, 100-meter freestyle and 100-meter individual medley.
Tompkins, 10, matched that effort with three individual wins, each using a different stroke (25-meter breast, 50-meter free, 25-meter back). Arthur Walton, 18, also posted three wins for the Sharks, taking the 100-meter freestyle, 100-meter individual medley and 50-meter backstroke.
Smallwood Village’s Malik Johnson ruled the 13-14 boys’ age group at the meet, taking the 50-meter butterfly, 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter individual medley.
Russett needed similar heroics to get past Roger Carter Seals. Allison Ritter, Simone DeSouza, Paris Hicks and Taylor Hicks posted the fourth-fastest girls’ 200-meter free relay time in the league on opening weekend (2:09.68) to take that event and help Russett to a 279.5-276.5 win.
Taylor and Paris Hicks provided a boost for the Sharks, winning three individual events apiece before swimming on the deciding relay. Aaban and Imaad Syed combined to finish first and second in three boys’ 8-and-under events (25-meter free, 25-meter breast, 25-meter back).
In the other Division D meet, Pointer Ridge held off New Carrollton Recreation, 278-267. Pointer Ridge won 25 events, while New Carrollton took 24 in another close contest. Pointer Ridge’s Grant Hines, 10, and New Carrollton Recreation’s Nathan Donoghue, 11, each won three races.
- Eric Detweiler, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: Arthur Walton, Ben Lomond Flying Ducks, Brady Ott, Brookside Hurricanes, Caroline Clark, Catherine Mulquin, Christopher Vu, Cindy Woll, Colin Asbury, Dennis Miller, Devin Truong, Dominion Valley Sharks, Emily Kelly, Emily Wang, Gabrielle Griffin, Grant Goddard, Henry Campbell, James Crabb, Kingsbrooke, Lia Harrison, Malik Johnson, Matt Thomas, Mike Hudgins, Mill Creek Towne, Morgan Mugnolo, Myrick Rachocki, New Carrollton Recreation, Old Bridge, Paris Hicks, Pointer Ridge, Potomac, Prince-Mont Swim League, PWSL, Ridgewood Barracudas, River Falls, Rocio Canedo, Savannah Nash, Scott Heckathorn, Smallwood Village, Stonegate, Sudley Seahorses, Sydney Craft, Taylor Hicks, Timmy Ellett, Victoria Coughlin, Victoria Kuhn, Zachary Webb