It’s both a blessing and a curse to swim Tuckahoe at home.
Despite its age, the Tuckahoe Swim Club pool, constructed in 1955, remains one of the fastest pools in Northern Virginia and one that swimmers look forward to every year, a fact belied by the cracked, elevated walls that give some younger backstrokers fits.
“I think the high walls help,” said Overlee head coach Joan Mountain. “We didn’t have the opportunity to swim here before (this season), so a lot of the times we were looking at from Tuckahoe…were from this pool.”
But the curse? Tuckahoe’s swimmers like to use that fast pool to their advantage. But Overlee wasn’t intimidated, taking the Northern Virginia Swim League Division 1 matchup, 205-197.
Overlee’s Nick Pasternak, who has been strong all year long in individual events, found that to be true early on. Pasternak, 11, looked smooth in the 11-12 butterfly to take first place (33.74) but couldn’t escape Tuckahoe’s Carter Flint (29.61) in the 50 freestyle (30.04).
Flint also grabbed first place in the 11-12 breaststroke (37.19).
Even without Pasternak’s five points in freestyle, the Flying Fish were just fine – the freestyle events ended deadlocked, 45-45.
Then, the Tuckahoe Tigers began to assert their dominance early in the backstroke events, jumping out to a 16-point advantage through the 8 & under races. With first place efforts from Peter Moore (22.00), 8, Charles Moore (37.28), 10, and in every girls’ race (Erin Warner, 8, Avery Burgess, 10, Chandler Sensibaugh, 12, Farrin Saba, 14, and Eva Greene, 17), Tuckahoe enjoyed a 14-point edge by the end of back.
In easily the closest race of the day, the 15-18 girls had it out in the 50 breaststroke. Less than 0.83 seconds separated first and last place, and there were ties for both second (37.88) and fifth (38.12).
After the conclusion of breaststroke, Overlee still trailed by 14 points but that was just how Mountain planned it.
“We backloaded the meet so that we would have a lot of good times and first, second, and thirds going into the fly,” said Mountain.
Still, she had to assuage the worries of her assistants.
“Some of my coaches were really worried, and I said ‘Wait, just wait.’”
It wasn’t, perhaps, until Overlee’s sweep of the 13-14 girls butterfly – which sent the Flying Fish fans into hysterics – that those on deck began to believe a comeback was in the cards.
By the start of the relays, however, it became exceedingly clear how close the finish promised to be.
The Tigers won the first two relays convincingly, releasing much of the suspense that had been building to that point, but Overlee bounced back quickly, riding the strength of J.T. Dolan’s breaststroke leg to take the 9-10 medley relay (1:10.72).
Back and forth they went. Overlee took the 15-18 boys relays, then Tuckahoe grabbed the 15-18 girls race.
During the warmup break before mixed age, whispers began to swirl amongst the Overlee swimmers and coaches that one relay is all they needed; their hopes rest heavily on the boys’ team.
Tuckahoe’s Cabell Perrot, 18, and Overlee’s Torin Ortmayer, 17, were neck-and-neck as they approached the wall, and the winner remained unclear for nearly a minute. After an agonizing wait, the timers approached the boards behind the lanes, slowly turning the turning the numbers until they were properly aligned. Spectators, swimmers and coaches all held their breath. As the last numbers were moved into place, it was elation for Tuckahoe – 0.03 seconds were the difference.
Ortmayer, visibly upset and physically exhausted, let his feet carry him back to the team area, thinking the meet was lost.
But then, something unexpected happened.
The Overlee girls jumped out to a lead. Tuckahoe quietly worked its way back into contention as Eva Greene set her sights on Overlee’s 15-18 leg in Katherine Bennett, and doubts arose as the separation began to diminish. But Bennett, to her credit and aided in part by her length, refused to relinquish the lead, hanging on by less than a half second.
From the depths of despair, pandemonium swept across the Overlee team area, capping the team’s dramatic comeback and pushing its record to a perfect 4-0 on the season.
- Taylor Knight
Rockville takes charge in MCSL Division A
Twelve-year-old Devin Truong remembers breaking his first Montgomery County Swim League record two summers ago and thinking it was pretty neat to join the exclusive club of league record-setters. With that in mind, the Rockville swimmer entered this season with a simple, but lofty goal: to achieve MCSL records in each of his age group’s five individual events — “the complete set” as Truong calls it.
After Saturday’s home meet against Tilden Woods, that dream seems much more realistic.
Truong won four races in personal best times, setting three league records in the process, and swam a leg on Rockville’s near-record-setting boys’ 175 graduated relay team in a 416-376 win that gave the Rays the inside track for their seventh straight Division A title.
“It will be cool when other people are trying to break my records, and hopefully, they will stand for a while,” Truong said. “If I come back 20 years later and I still have one or two records, knowing that I had set them all before, it would be pretty cool.”
Truong started the morning by shaving 0.70 seconds off his already-record time in the boys’ 12-and-under 100 IM (1:05.27). He then swam the boys’ 11-12 50 back in 30.42, bettering the old mark set by teammate John Jeang last summer. After taking the boys’ 11-12 50 breast in his best time of the season, he set another record in his final individual swim of the day with a 29.68 in the boys’ 11-12 50 fly.
With the divisional and all-star meets remaining, Truong, who also set a record in the 200 IM last week at the Coaches Long Course meet, needs to trim less than a second off his best breaststroke time and about 1.5 seconds off his best freestyle time to reach his goal of being the sole boys’ record-holder in the age group.
His younger brother, Darius, etched a new entry in the league record book as well. The eight-year-old established a new league mark in the eight-and-under 25 fly (16.12), winning the short race by more than five seconds. He already holds the record for the youngest boys’ age group in the 25 back.
Darius said the brothers continue to push each other to drop time.
“Sometimes (Devin) says, ‘Good job, Darius,’ but sometimes he says, ‘You can do better than that,’” Darius said, breaking into a laugh.
The Truong brothers teamed up with Jeang and Jeffrey Qin on the final boys’ relay of the day, a tight race in which Rockville only edged Tilden Woods’ top team by just more than a second but finished less than 0.25 seconds off a league record.
Rockville Coach Cara Chuang, who calls the Truongs “the dynamic duo,” appreciates the luxury of having that firepower in her lineup.
“I try not to be over-confident,” Chuang said, “but when you put them in a race, you know they’re going to win or do whatever they can to get to the wall as fast as they can.”
The home squad also got a boost when Michael Fu won the most competitive race on a day full of them. The 17-year-old finished the boys’ 15-18 50 fly in 28.12 to edge Tilden Woods’s Barry Mangold in a race in which the top four swimmers ended up within a second of each other.
Those performances and strong depth helped ensure Rockville — which also edged Tilden Woods in the division’s relay carnival last Sunday — kept its place at the top of the division standings.
“I told the kids, ‘If you’re racing for that fifth place, you’re still getting that point for the team and every point helps,’” Chuang said. “A lot of kids really felt the team vibe and how much everybody wanted to win this, and they just picked it up and brought it home.”
The competitive meet also brought out the best in the Tilden Woods swimmers.
Ashley Piepol and Katherine Ellett each bettered the previous team record time in the girls’ 11-12 50 breast with Piepol winning in 36.22 seconds. Ten-year-old Timmy Ellett was the lone Dolphin to win three races.
“We kind of threw it out there that we’d have to have a real special meet (to win),” Tilden Woods Coach Nick Kaufman said. “We got them geared up to go 5-0, but we were happy in the end with the way everybody stepped up. All the swimmers were cheering and having fun, and they really embraced that and swam really well.”
The teams will square off again — joined by the other top swimmers in the league’s most competitive division — in the divisional meet on Saturday at Rockville.
Whitehall shakes up PMSL Division B
The Prince-Mont Swim League entered its final week of dual meets light on drama with a single undefeated team leading each of its seven divisions. But Whitehall Pool and Tennis Club provided some excitement thanks to a 294-281 win against previously unbeaten Westlake Village that tightened the race for the top spot in Division B.
Westlake Village took charge early in a tight meet, winning the first seven races, but the Wahoos struck back to take 23 of the next 39 events to build a slim lead heading into the final relays. Whitehall Pool and Tennis Club held on for the victory by winning two of the three relays.
Twelve-year-old Holly Sampson and 13-year-old Annie Hayburn won three events for Whitehall. Maggie Snyder, David Webster, Kristen Seeba and Joseph Hayburn each won a pair of races to help the Wahoos to their fourth straight win.
“When I scored the meet, I knew it would be close,” Whitehall Coach Katie Bryant said. “I believed walking in the door that if our kids swam very well we could beat them, and a lot of our swimmers won the close races across the board.”
Whitehall Pool and Tennis Club and Westlake Village both finished the dual meet season at 4-1 in the evenly matched division with a group of three teams (West Laurel, Adelphi Recreation and Greenbelt Municipal) back at 2-3. That leaves plenty of room for movement in the final division standings heading into Saturday’s divisional meet at Whitehall Pool and Tennis Club.
“We are very, very excited,” said Bryant, who has helped with the team for 28 years. “Whitehall has not won Division B in I don’t know how long. I couldn’t even tell you. Everybody’s excited. The kids are all very pumped to try and win a trophy.”
Elsewhere, Theresa Banks (Division A), Kingfish (Division C), Russett (Division D), King’s Landing (Division E) and Hawthorne Country Club (Division F) won to finish perfect dual meet seasons. Those squads can close out division titles at their respective divisional meets this weekend.
- Eric Detweiler, email@example.com
Tags: Anatol Liu, Anna Epstein, Annie Hayburn, Ashley Piepol, Avery Burgess, Cabell Perrot, Carter Flint, Chandler Sensibaugh, Charles Moore, Darius Truong, David Webster, Devin Truong, Erin Warner, Eva Greene, Farrin Saba, Grace Sun, Holly Sampson, J.T. Dolan, Joan Mountain, Joseph Hayburn, Katherine Bennett, Katherine Ellett, Kristen Seeba, Maggie Snyder, Michael Fu, Nick Pasternak, Nicole Lopez, Ophelie Loblack, Overlee, Peter Moore, Rockville, Tilden Woods, Timmy Ellett, Torin Ortymayer, Tuckahoe, Westlake Village, Whitehall Pool and Tennis Club