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Division races heat up

By Eric Detweiler

Chevy Chase Recreation Association Coach Jesse McGee took some time before the season to compare his team’s times from last summer to its new competitors’ in the Montgomery County Swim League‘s Division F. At the time, the coach just hoped his team would come away with two wins and hold their spot in the league for next season.

Just a few weeks into the season, McGee has to re-evaluate his expectations.

The Stingrays, who moved up two divisions this season, head into Saturday’s meet against Kentlands at 3-0. With a win against the unbeaten Kingfish on Saturday and a good showing at the division relay carnival on Sunday, Chevy Chase Recreation Association can gain the inside track toward the division title.

“I think the kids have already surpassed my initial goals,” McGee said. “Now I want to get four wins and maybe even five and win the division. I’m thinking how can I get more kids into all-stars and make them better this year and looking ahead for next year.”

Chevy Chase Recreation Association’s marquee swimmer this season has been 14-year-old Caroline McTaggart, who established a new league record in the 50 free at the season-opening meet on June 18. She has recorded the area’s top two times in the event this season.

In the current league all-star seedings, McTaggart ranks in the top 12 of four different events, paced by her league-best times in the 50 free and 50 fly (29.94).

“It’s fun to watch her swim,” McGee said of McTaggart. “She’s amazing.”

Eight-year-old Gracie Spurney, 15-year-old Lily Gasaway and 16-year-old Sofie Pietrantonio are also in contention for spots at the all-star meet.

On the boys’ side, James Flood, 13, has been the Stingrays’s top swimmer with 11 wins in his 12 individual races this season.

They’ll face a Kentlands squad that has been dominant this season, winning each of its three meets by at least 160 points. Olivia French, 11, has won four events each of the past two weeks for the Kingfish.

Later in the weekend, Chevy Chase Recreation Association’s focus turns to the relay carnival.

The Stingrays finished fourth in the Division H event last season after finishing second in nine different races with zero race wins. But McGee still calls the relay carnival, “the most fun meet of the summer.”

While a pair of strong swims might have McGee re-thinking his list of goals one more time, he’s already sure the weekend will be a success.

“It’s a great weekend for the kids,” McGee said. “I think it’s a great time for anybody who ends up at the pools because these are exciting meets. We’ll have our pasta party with some sign-making to get ready, and it will be fun. I know the kids here are jacked up.”

Showdown in PMSL Division E

Severn Crossing Coach Albert Stokes explains the losing margin that defined his team’s 2010 season as “next to nothing.”

Thirteen-year-old Andrew Skinner and Severn Crossing take on King's Landing on Saturday in a battle of PMSL unbeatens. (photo: Pam Skinner)

Thirteen-year-old Andrew Skinner and Severn Crossing take on King's Landing on Saturday in a battle of PMSL unbeatens. (photo: Pam Skinner)

A year ago, the Bowie-based squad narrowly missed out on a Prince-Mont Swim League Division E title when it came up 1.5 points short of first-place Prince Georges Council 2809 at divisionals. As a result, the Sting Rays finished second in the final standings as Pointer Ridge won the top spot – and a promotion to Division D this season – in a tightly packed division.

With three wins to start this summer, Severn Crossing has once again moved into position to challenge for the division crown. The Stingrays host fellow unbeaten King’s Landing on Saturday with a chance to improve that bid.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’re already a D division team,” Stokes said. “We just didn’t get that one win to prove it last year. Hopefully we’ll be able to rectify that this season.”

Brothers Cameron and Kenneth Edwards and 18-year-old Tyler Lynch have led those efforts so far this summer. The three have won each of their nine individual races through the season’s first three dual meets and swum a leg on its undefeated 200 graduated relay team.

Ten-year-old Cameron has set team records in each of his events (25 back, 25 fly, 25 free), while 12-year-old Kenneth has a pair of record-setting individual swims (100 IM, 50 free). The graduated relay’s top time of 2:06.64 is also a team record.

On the girls’ side, 13-year-old Taleah Langley and 10-year-old Mikayla Salmon have been just as good, winning eight of their nine races and contributing to an undefeated girls’ 200 graduated relay team.

King’s Landing – the only team in the league to move up multiple divisions for this season after sweeping through Division G in its inaugural season – has built up plenty of momentum this summer, too.

Rebekah Johnson, 12, has been particularly strong, winning all three of her individual events last week and posting the league’s 10th-best time of the weekend in the 50 back (39.40). Jacob Dohrman, 16, has gone unbeaten in his individual events to this point in the season.

One of the Kingfish’s biggest challenges this week has been preparing their deck starts to compete with the Stingrays. At King’s Landing’s Huntingtown pool, all races begin in the water because at three feet it is too shallow to have swimmers dive in to start. They are able to practice their starts for away meets in the area near the diving board where the water is deeper and safe for it.

No matter the venue, Coach Chris Morgan has plenty of reasons to be confident in his fledgling squad.

“I think the transition (to Division E) has been pretty much seamless for us,” Morgan said. “A lot of our swimmers have been challenged. Being that we are a pretty deep team, we’ve been able to overwhelm some teams with our size and depth. But Severn Crossing is a great team and they’ll be a great challenge for us. If we can win, it will certainly be a close one.”

The meet represents the PMSL’s lone Week 4 undefeated matchup, and both teams know that the meet will go a long way toward deciding a division champion – and ultimately, which division the teams will swim in next season.

To add to the excitement, Severn Crossing will be celebrating its 20th season with a homecoming on Saturday, honoring past swimmers and their families.

“We’re just trying to rally the troops and let them know that this is the important one,” Stokes said. “We’ve been pushing them extra hard in practice, and they’ve been willing to put the extra work in.”

- Eric Detweiler, detweilere@washpost.com

Lakevale Estates not fazed by Division 4

It’s not often that an NVSL team moves up a division and still has unchecked success – but that’s been the story for the Lakevale Estates Dolphins through the first two weeks of the season.

Through two meets, Lakevale Estates has been ready for Division 4. (Photo courtesy of team website)

Through two meets, Lakevale Estates has been ready for Division 4. (Photo courtesy of team website)

The Dolphins, after posting a 4-1 record in Division 5 last season, are 2-0 so far this year with wins against Dunn Loring and Mosby Woods. But neither came easily. Just 26 points separated Lakevale Estates and Dunn Loring in the first weekend, while 17 points proved to be the difference last weekend when Mosby Woods came to visit.

And if history is any indication of the future, expect Lakevale to have another close one on their hands versus Langely. In 2010, the Dolphins edged the Wildthings by six points.

Two record-setting swims were key against Mosby Woods. Derek Perez, 10, swam up with the 11-12 age group in the 50 breaststroke, performing strong enough for the win and new 9-10 team record (43.19). He also ran away with the 9-10 50 freestyle (34.7), winning by a margin of three seconds. The Dolphin’s other record setter was Mary Beth Klein, 15, who, although at the younger end of the age group, won the 15-18 50 breaststroke and set a new team-best mark (38.81).

Lakevale Estates (2-0) welcomes Langely (1-1) this weekend in a rematch of last season's dramatic matchup. (Photo courtesy of team website)

Lakevale Estates (2-0) welcomes Langley (1-1) this weekend in a rematch of last season's dramatic matchup. (Photo courtesy of team website)

The Wildthings (1-1) have started 2011 well but were on the losing end of a close meet against Mosby Woods in week one.

Jinwon Bailar, 12, and his sister Schuyler, 15, are perhaps among Langley’s most talented. Jinwon currently holds the NVSL’s best times in both the 11-12 breaststroke (36.78) and butterfly (30.44). Schuyler has also been phenomenal, taking the 15-18 breaststroke (36.14) and butterfly (30.96) against Fox Mill Woods.

Now at the halfway point, the meet will have important implications for the rest of the division. Dunn Loring, Mosby Woods, Fox Mill Woods, and Langley are all currently 1-1 in a Division 4 which is still very much up for grabs.

Herndon Olympics

A midseason, championship meet showcasing teams from different leagues hosted on a Friday. It’s certainly a peculiar concept to some, but for the city of Herndon, it’s been one of the highlights of the summer for more than 25 years.

Hosted for the third consecutive season by Kingston Chase, the Herndon Olympics is a three-day event featuring nine teams as well as former Olympians Lacey Nymeyer and Josh Davis, who hosted a swim clinic on Thursday.

“It’s a full-day community event,” said Kingston Chase team representative Kelly Ginieczki. “You’ll see community members converging on the event throughout the day, both parents of swimmers as well as just community members coming out to participate and cheer on for the day.”

The meet kicked off Friday morning with a parade of teams that was to be attended by Herndon mayor Stephen DeBenedittis. Check back here on Monday for a recap of the event.

- Taylor Knight

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4 Responses to “Division races heat up”

  1. The Truth says:

    pretty sure Lakevale wasn’t 5-1 last year…..

  2. Taylor Knight says:

    You are right. Lakevale was 4-1. The correction has been made.

  3. Rockville Rays Rule says:

    Hey Rays,

    LET’S GET READY TO RUMMMMMMMMMBLLLLLLLLLLLLLE

  4. SwimMom says:

    Way to go Kentlands!! not only took down CCRA but won relay carnival as well – say “Goodbye” to Division F!

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