NVSL and the 2011 All-Stars were excited to be back at the spacious Waynewood facilities in Alexandria. Grandstands lined the deck, the teams were treated to partially-shaded retreats, and the warmup pool was well used.
Boisterous announcer Bob York, who received complaints from the pool’s neighbors for his loudness the last time All-Stars was hosted by Waynewood, wasn’t about to turn the volume down – the excitement was just too much.
As the 11-12 boys stepped up for the 50 breaststroke, the seed times showed a virtual dead heat between lanes two (Brendan Richichi, Dowden Terrace), three (Timothy Wu, McLean), and four (Carter Flint, Tuckahoe). They hit the wall at 25 meters, and the race was no more decided than when it began. Flint’s final stroke was long and stretching, stopping the clock just before Richichi to win in 36.19.
It was hyped as the race of the morning, if not the whole day – Chuck Katis (Highlands), CJ Fiala (Sully Station), Ed Moses’s 13-year-old record primed to fall. But in a slow Waynewood pool – just five-and-a-half feet down at its deepest – Saturday wasn’t the day. Katis had no trouble taking first place but fell well short of the historic mark (29.13). Fiala was further back, grabbing second place (29.57); he did, however, go on to win the 15-18 freestyle later in the day (23.65).
“No excuses. It was a great last NVSL race, and I am honored to come so close to an Olympian’s record,” said Katis, who was excited about the prospect of potentially meeting Moses this past weekend at Junior Nationals.
Fair Oaks’ Anthony Grimm, just .03 seconds off the previous NVSL record entering Saturday, looked strong over the course of the 8 & under 25 butterfly. His long arms and powerful strokes were unmatched by the competition, and his time of 16.80 was by .30 seconds the best in league history.
The biggest surprise of the day, however, came by way of the 8 & under girls butterfly. Swimming out of lane six in the very first heat, 18th seed Annie Hood of Mansion House dropped two seconds to swim a 19.01. “I love 8 & unders,” quipped York of younger swimmers’ ability to unexpectedly drop tremendous amounts of time. The time was fast, without doubt, but with two heats to left to swim, its position was precarious. Second heat, didn’t come close. Final heat, still good. Hood took first place by .19 seconds.
Cassidy Bayer, who has taken the NVSL butterfly records by storm, stepped to the edge of the pool and was crouched, ready to go. She shook out her arms once but otherwise didn’t move until the start, all of her energy focused on the race. Bayer came up quickly off the dive and led wall-to-wall for the win. And her time – 30.21 – exactly matched the time of 11-12 boys winner Roman Lowery.
As expected, Shouse Village‘s Sinead Eksteen ran away with the 9-10 girls IM (1:15.26). She dropped another two seconds off and an already-blazing qualifying mark but still fell short of Isabella Rongione‘s 1:13.83 NVSL record. Getting out early, Eksteen led the whole way and won by nearly half a pool length. Eksteen, who held the NVSL’s top times in each of the four individual strokes entering Saturday, also cruised to a 9-10 girls backstroke victory in 34.98 seconds.
Rongione was on display in the very next event in a marquee matchup against Bayer. A strong butterflier, Bayer was out front for the entire first half. Rongione worked her way back in breaststroke and made a legitimate attack with 12.5 meters to go, but Bayer wouldn’t surrender, out-touching the McLean 11-year-old for first (1:10.70).
With Katis on his way to the airport for Junior Nationals, the 15-18 boys took advantage of the NVSL record holder’s absence. Brandon Fiala (Sully Station) built on his lead in the backstroke leg, but Conor MacNair (Mansion House) brought the heat from lane 2. With less than half a body length separating the two, Fiala held off the assault to touch the wall first in 1:00.55. Fiala picked up his second win after an early afternoon victory in the 15-18 boys backstroke (28.23).
Just three events into freestyle, sister and brother Faith and Roman Lowery won in back-to-back events for the Fairfax Station Flyers. First, in the 9-10 girls freestyle, Faith, 10, posted a season-best time of 31.93 to win. Then, older brother Roman, 12, turned in a 28.09 to pick up his second victory of the day.
Hayfield Farm’s Ben Lambert, who captured first place in the 13-14 boys butterfly earlier in the day, was back at it in the 50 freestyle. One of a select number of individuals to drop time in the consistently slow pool, Lambert offered a 25.14, cutting .37 seconds off his previous best.
It was one of those days for Camelot’s Laura Schwartz. She dropped more than a second-and-a-half to win the 15-18 girls IM. Then, just a few hours later, she slashed .14 seconds from her 50 freestyle time. But as fate would have it, Logan Coulson Moore of Sully Station, who added .56 seconds in lane 3, and Schwartz stopped the clock in an identical 27.84 for a share of first place.
Even a brief power outage, and an even briefer rain shower, couldn’t put a damper on the swimmers spirits through the freestyle and backstroke events.
For those spectators and swimmers who had already packed and gone home by the 15-18 girls backstroke, they missed a good one. Hometown girl Reanna Dona of Waynewood entered as the top seed in the event, but few probably expected what happened next. With a lonely NVSL mark having been broken, Dona rose to the occasion, obliterating the league record of Janet Hu – not competing at All-Stars Saturday – set earlier this season. Dona shaved more than a second off her own career best and over half a second off Hu’s record, fitting that a Waynewood Dolphin should thusly end the meet.