Matt Thomas won the boys’ 15-18 100 free in record time (50.47) at Sunday’s Montgomery County Swim League Individual All- Star Meet and headed for the other end of the Rockville pool for a few cool down laps.
When he finished, the Manor Woods 18- year-old grabbed his cell phone, ready to let friend Brady Fox know that he’d just bested Fox’s old league mark in the event. But there was already a text message waiting for Thomas when he turned on the phone — a one-word exclamation from Fox: ‘Wow.’
News travels fast in the MCSL community, especially when league records are falling.
In line with his preseason goals, Thomas, a rising sophomore at N.C. State, made sure to join the exclusive club of record holders in his final league meet. He also finished just 0.30 seconds off Eric Friedland’s 100 IM record in a convincing win in that event as part of an impressive close to his MCSL career.
“I was just trying to have fun and go for it,” Thomas said. “It’s not really as serious or as much pressure as college swimming. I actually swim better when I’m more relaxed and want to have fun, so that was a good mindset for me.”
Seven league records in all went down as the league’s best finished the season with a meet full of fast swims and close finishes.
Rockville‘s Devin Truong finished out his season undefeated by winning a pair of events in personal best times. The 12-year-old had no trouble picking which two events he would swim on Sunday. With three league boys’ 11-12 records already in hand, he needed to drop two more to finish out “the complete set” for the age group.
Truong came close to achieving the feat. He topped teammate Harrison Gu‘s three-year-old record in the 50 breast with a 34.49 and lowered his time in the 50 free to 27.57 — less than a second off a league record that has stood since 1998.
After a dominating season, he’s prepared to age up and try his luck in the boys’ 13-14 age group next summer.
“I’m pretty excited to move up — I’m ready,” Truong said. “It’s more fun if you have more competition. You can make more friends. You can talk to more people. When you race faster people, it pushes you to go even faster.”
The day’s other record setters included Rockville’s Darius Truong (boys’ 8-and-under 25 fly), Tilden Woods‘s Timmy Ellett (boys’ 9-10 50 free), Old Georgetown‘s Carsten Vissering (boys’ 13-14 50 breast), Palisades‘s Grant Goddard (boys’ 13-14 50 fly) and Little Falls‘s Rachel Danegger (girls’ 9-10 25 breast).
Danegger swam the 25 breast in 17.42 to break her own record, which she originally set in the first week of the season. After several weeks of trying to drop time, the competition at Sunday’s meet pushed the 10-year-old past the mark.
“I didn’t quite as well as I wanted to in freestyle (with a fourth-place finish),” Danegger said, “so I knew I needed to try as hard as I could in breaststroke and see how fast I could go.”
In addition to Thomas and Devin Truong, double winners in the meet included Vissering, Ellett, Darius Truong, Tallyho eight-year-old Phoebe Bacon and Darnestown‘s Jaycee Yegher. Yegher entered the girls’ 12-and-under 100 IM seeded fourth but knocked more than a second off her personal best to take the race in 1:12.36.
“I felt really, really strong,” said Yegher, who also took the 50 breast in near-record time (35.09). “I felt like I was going to win that time.”
The season closed with a burst of excitement with a down-to-the wire girls’ 15-18 50 fly in the meet’s final event. Anna Epstein, a 17-year-old from Tilden Woods, won the event in 29.35 seconds with the top eight finishers separated by less than a second.
Epstein’s previous season best in the event had been 30.01 seconds at the same pool during a duel meet against Rockville.
“I’ve been gearing up for that one for a while now,” Epstein said. “I’ve been on the cusp this season of breaking 30 (seconds), and I guess I was hoping I would break through. I’ve been working a lot this week on my start and tweaking my stroke a bit, trying to focus for this race.”
While that race ended the MCSL summer season, Thomas is just starting to look ahead to the hard part of his swimming year. He’ll head back to Raleigh later this month, where he’ll get to meet the Wolfpack’s new coach, Braden Holloway, and begin preparations for his second season of ACC competition.
Thomas, whose main college events were 200 free and 200 IM last season, dropped more than two seconds off his seed times in both events on Sunday. The former two-time All-Met was just 0.28 seconds off a national cut time in the 100 free — his best-ever showing in the event.
Even though Thomas is done competing in the MCSL, he said he plans to be back at Manor Woods next summer continuing to help coach — hopefully by then swimming faster than ever.
“I’m feeling pretty good about it because I know when I go back to school they’re going to kill me with training, so I’ll be able to drop even more time,” Thomas said. “My racing this summer — being able to get pumped up and go fast — has been better than past years, so I think I’m ready to go.”
Rockville rules MCSL All-Star Relays
On Saturday, Division A champion Rockville won a meet-best seven events at the league’s all-star relay carnival for teams in Divisions A through G, including record-breaking swims in the girls’ graduated 175 free relay and mixed 13-14 200 free relay.
The Tilden Woods girls’ graduated 100 medley relay team of Natsumi Horikawa, Ashley Piepol, Nicole Lopez and Julie Fan broke its own record (1:05.25) set earlier this summer at the Division A relay carnival. The Potomac Woods boys’ 9-10 100 medley relay team of Aaron Lazar, John Howley, Nicholas Wayland and Jake Kaplan also set a league record (1:08.72).
Nguyen shines at Prince-Mont All-Star Meet
The nine-year-old won all three of his events on Saturday, breaking his own league record in the boys’ 9-10 25 fly (15.36) and finishing 0.40 seconds off the league record in the 25 back (16.58). Nguyen — who helped the Waves win the league’s Division B title this season — closed out his banner meet by teaming with brothers Andrew and Alexander and cousin Denny to win the graduated 200 free relay in a pool record 1:54.23. As a nine-year-old, Anthony Nguyen will be back in the same age group next summer.
The other three Nguyens found individual success, as well. Each youngster won at least one race and 12-year-old Andrew took two, including a pool record in the boys’ 11-12 100 IM.
MVP Dolphins 14-year-old Bridie Burke and New Carrollton Recreation 17-year-old Trevor Irish were the other swimmers to sweep their three events. Burke won the girls’ 13-14 50 free, 50 back and 100 IM, while Irish captured the boys’ 15-18 50 fly, 100 free, 50 back.
Takoma Park D.C. 17-year-old Amina Wilson, Strathmore Bel Pre 12-year-old Morgan Hill, Montpelier 14-year-old Dylan Buehler and Theresa Banks 12-year-old Raekwon Martin were the other double winners. Buehler finished the boys’ 13-14 fly in 27.82 to set a new league record.
Tags: Amina Wilson, Anna Epstein, Anthony Nguyen, Brady Fox, Carsten Vissering, Darius Truong, Devin Truong, Dylan Buehler, Eric Friedland, Grant Goddard, Jaycee Yegher, Matt Thomas, Phoebe Bacon, Rachel Danegger, Raekwon Martin, Summer, Timmy Ellett