Denny Nguyen has competed against some of the region’s top swimmers with the Machine Aquatics club team, and he made an immediate impact in the pool at Oakton over the winter as a freshman. So it’s hardly surprising the Westlake Village 15-year-old entered his first Prince-Mont Swim League summer season with lofty goals.
Even joining a Waves team that dropped down to Division B this season after a winless 2010 campaign in the league’s most competitive division, Nguyen said he came into the season expecting to earn Westlake Village a promotion back to Division A.
Thanks in large part to Nguyen and his talented trio of cousins, the Waves have taken the right first steps toward that dream. Denny and brothers Anthony, Andrew and Alex Nguyen combined to win 12 individual events and teamed up for an impressive 200 free relay victory on Saturday at West Laurel as Westlake Village stayed undefeated with a 295-280 win.
“We get in each other’s faces right before the meet,” Denny said of the friendly family rivalry that propelled the Waves’ star swimmers. “It pumps us up and helps us get faster times.”
Whatever the Nguyens did to prepare, no one could keep up with them on Saturday as they each captured all three of their individual races. Denny won the boys’ 15-18 100 free, 50 breast and 100 IM, while Alex, 14, took the boys’ 13-14 50 fly, 50 back and 100 IM. Andrew, 12, won the boys’ 11-12 50 fly, 50 back and 100 IM, and Anthony, 9, placed first in the boys’ 25 fly, 25 breast and 25 back.
“They carry us,” Westlake Village Coach Seth Rose said. “They’re great swimmers and they just go out and swim hard. The team gets really excited watching them. We have so many talented families that just help us out so much.”
With each of the Nguyens competing in a different age group, it proved a potent scoring combination and allowed them to combine on the closing relay, which they won in a blistering 1:53.83 — more than 20 seconds ahead of the second-place team.
On the slightly shorter pool at West Laurel, the final time needed to be converted from yards into meters, but the converted time beat the relay’s winning effort from its Week 1 victory against Greenbelt Municipal.
“I felt excited,” Alex Nguyen said of the boys’ final event of the day. “We were pumped up and ready to go.” (Check out the video of their relay win below.)
The Nguyens’ performance proved the top highlight on a banner morning for Westlake Village as the Waves captured 30 of 49 races overall. They trailed after 30 events but won the first seven backstroke races to take the lead and pull away.
“It was really confusing at times,” said 11-year-old Hannah McMillen said of tracking the back-and-forth meet on the scoreboard. “We were in the lead, and then it got flipped around, and then it got flipped around again.”
“It was kind of scary,” added sister Kerrigan McMillen, who won the girls 9-10 25 breast and 25 back.
West Laurel’s bid to improve to 2-0 fell short despite three individual wins from 14-year-old Olivia Petrusky and eight-year-old Max Bagileo. The Wahoos, who finished 1-4 in Division B dual meets a year ago, got double race victories from 18-year-old Caitlin Raynor and 12-year-old Danielle Calabrese.
“What I was most happy about is all our kids were really getting some best times,” West Laurel Coach Matt Harris said. “I saw the disappointment they had at the end, but I’m standing there thinking, ‘You don’t have that much to be upset about because you all swam really well.'”
Elsewhere in the PMSL, Takoma Park D.C. and Theresa Banks remained on track to duel for the top spot in Division A again this season, but it didn’t come easily. The Tiger Sharks survived Bel Air Bath and Tennis, 287.5-285.5, to improve to 2-0.
Theresa Banks needed a strong finish in the meet’s final two relays to complete the comeback. Its top boys’ 9-18 200 free relay team of Kendall Carter, Kevin Young, Darnell Hungerford and Jonathan Mitchell finished in 2:04.39 to win the race by .04 seconds and take seven valuable points. Then the team captured the top two spots in the girls’ 9-18 200 free relay to earn 12 points and secure the narrow win.
Carter, 10, captured three individual events to pace the Tiger Sharks, while Tommy Cranford, 14, won three individual events in a tough loss for Bel Air Bath and Tennis, which fell to 0-2.
Takoma Park D.C. had an easier time winning its home meet against Strathmore Bel Pre, 332-246. Nine-year-old Absalom Bolling, 14-year-old Jalyn Robinson, 13-year-old Devi Ylli, 11-year-old Jon Bendana, 15-year-old Timothy Miller and 17-year-old Amina Wilson each won three events to help Takoma Park D.C. stay perfect on its quest for a third straight Division A crown.
Danegger drops MCSL record
First-year Little Falls Coach Arielle Fein thought that 10-year-old Rachel Danegger had a chance to challenge the Montgomery County Swim League record book this season in several events, but she didn’t expect it to happen so quickly.
Danegger entered the record book in the girls’ 9-10 division on Saturday by swimming the 25 breast in 17.64 seconds. The youngster turned in one of the season’s most impressive performances, winning four individual events in the Penguins’s Division H meet win against Seven Locks.
“Everything finally came together for her,” Fein said of the record-breaking swim. “It was a beautiful race. Her strokes were fantastic. Everything just seemed to work.”
In addition to becoming the first Little Falls swimmer to ever hold a league record, Danegger set the team and pool records in the 50 free (30.94) and 25 fly (16.17). She also contributed to a team record time in the 175 graduated relay (1:51.93).
Danegger, who trains year-round with Curl-Burke, holds the league’s top time in three of her four events after two weeks. Her performance in the 50 free on Saturday left her less than a second off Morgan Ribar’s 11-year-old league record in that event.
“I think (the 25 breast record) means a ton for us,” Fein said. “For a team like ours, because we’re a fairly small private pool, it means a lot, for not only Rachel, but the other swimmers to really have someone to look up to. It’s great for the other swimmers her age to see what she’s been able to do.”
Danegger’s teammate Kit Uhar, 14, also won four individual events as the Penguins picked up their first win of the season.
Norbeck Hills swimmer Audrey Richter, 12, also turned in an impressive swim, posting the league’s top girls’ 11-12 50 free time of the season (29.57) in a Division L meet win against Montgomery Square. Richter has won all eight of her individual races through two weeks.
Flower Valley‘s Jack Conger, 16, made the most of his season debut, posting the league’s top time in the boys’ 15-18 100 back (58.28) by better than two seconds. Conger, the 2010 All-Met Boys’ Swimmer of the Year, won four individual events (three with top ten league times) and swam a leg on a winning 200 medley relay in Flower Valley’s 414-377 Division C win against Cedarbrook.
Upper County‘s Diana Hanson posted the top time in that event (1:15.19) in the Dolphins’ loss to Bethesda on Saturday. Hanson also finished with the league’s best time in the 100 IM during the meet (1:08.38).
– Eric Detweiler, email@example.com
NVSL gets rolling
Excitement, drama, and a league record; NVSL delivered it all on Saturday.
The Crosspointe Cruisers traveled to Arlington for an opening weekend matchup against the Donaldson Run Thunderbolts, as both teams looked to start off the 2011 Division 3 season on a high note. But, as it turned out, both would be denied that goal.
Perhaps most evident was the domination of the Donaldson Run boys and the Crosspointe girls, each keeping their respective team in contention throughout the meet.
The Thunderbolt boys took first place in 20 of the meet’s 25 individual events, including six straight to start the morning. Headlining the boys’ performance was eight-year-old John Sloan, who won the 8 & under boys 25 freestyle (18.12), broke a 26-year-old Thunderbolt record in the 25 backstroke (21.09), and contributed to the winning 100 freestyle relay along with Thomas Hutchison, John Ford, and Henry Rehr (1:20.77). Also shining for the Thunderbolts was Bryan Meade, 14, who easily grabbed first place in the 50 backstroke (31.84) and 50 butterfly (30.26). Meade’s 100 medley relay – which includes himself (backstroke), Jack Storrs (breast), Andrew Fleckenstein (fly), and Michael Poppalardo (free) – currently holds the third-fastest time in the NVSL for the 13-14 age group (56.72).
Will Pyle, 10, was a bright spot for the Cruiser boys, jumping out to a five second victory in the 9-10 backstroke (45.72) as well as taking a commendable second place in the 9-10 breaststroke (54.72).
But just as much as the Donaldson Run boys were impressive, so, too, were the Crosspointe girls. The Cruisers used a meet-opening sweep in the 8 & under 25 freestyle (Eleanor Balgley, 19.27; Katherine Helms, 21.00; Marie Repczynski, 21.17) to get rolling, and they never looked back. At one point, the Crosspointe girls won seven events in a row, spanning from 8 & under backstroke to 9-10 breaststroke. Maddie Heilbrun, 10, won both of her individual events in convincing fashion, taking the 50 freestyle by 4.5 seconds (33.91) and the 50 backstroke by 3.5 seconds (39.98). Emma Hutchison, 10, led the Donaldson Run girls with a first place finish in the 25 fly (18.98) and a second place finish in the 50 free (38.45).
The story of the meet, however, was its conclusion. Back and forth, the teams split relay after relay. With things knotted up heading into the mixed age relays, something truly special was needed if either team wanted to pull out a win.
After being outperformed all day, the Cruiser boys swam to within three seconds of both the Thunderbolt boys and victory. However, it was not to be. The meet concluded just at it began, with both teams tied in points and the Division 3 standings.
Pomajevich powers Sudley
Another Sudley win (now 82 straight, for those counting) is of little note these days. But an impressive swim by one of its 11-12 boys definitely caught some eyes. Sam Pomajevich, 12, set a new PWSL record in the 50 butterfly with a time of 30.32 seconds as the Seahorses dispatched Ridgewood and became one of four teams (Piedmont, Old Bridge, Braemar) in the league to remain undefeated.
On the whole, this weekend’s matchups were significantly more competitive league-wide. Earning the distinction of the week’s most exciting meet was Ben Lomond vs. Lake Manassas. The Flying Ducks edged the Blue Dolphins by an extraordinarily slim margin of eight points as both teams moved to 1-1 on the season.
– Taylor Knight