For the first time, Montgomery County teams will compete in the Maryland 4A-3A Swimming and Diving Championship, held Feb. 24-25 at the University of Maryland’s Eppley Recreation Center. Diving will take place on Friday at 5 p.m.; swimming will follow on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Churchill, Whitman, and Wootton should dominate the girls’ competition, just as they did at the Washington Metro Interscholastic and MCPS Division I championships. Walter Johnson and Churchill will battle for the boys’ title.
Churchill’s girls won both earlier contests, but the difference at those meets was Churchill’s substantial advantage in diving, led by freshman star Kali Becker, who has placed first in every championship appearance of her brief high school career.
However, at the Maryland championship meet, diving is exhibition only, with no points counting towards the competition for the team title, evening up the competition between Churchill, Whitman, and Wootton. Whitman was only one point behind Churchill at Metros, and finished nine points ahead of Churchill to win the West region championship meet last weekend. Wootton finished third, five points behind Churchill.
Walter Johnson’s boys were fourth at Metros, behind private school powerhouses Gonzaga, Georgetown Prep, and Good Counsel. As they have all season, the Wildcats will be challenged by Churchill’s boys, who finished 1.5 points and 10 points back at Metros and the Division I championship meets, respectively.
If swimmers can replicate the impressive performances from the Metro championship, nearly every state record has a chance of being broken. Star swimmers from Whitman, Wootton, Walter Johnson, and Churchill enter the competition with season-best times already under the majority of the records, but nearly every one of those times were achieved at Metros, swimming rested, against the area’s elite.
Plus, with club championship meets approaching, club teams are focused on preparing swimmers for the long course championships in March, with several still hoping to reach Olympic Trials cuts, and not on breaking records at a meet in which they have never participated. Regardless, records will fall, even if not in the same spectacular fashion they did at Metros.
Charlotte Meyer‘s time from Metros in the girls’ 200 individual medley is a staggering 10 seconds under the state record. It will be hard for the Whitman junior to replicate that performance without Good Counsel senior Sarah Haase pushing her, but she should still be comfortably under the previous record of 2:08.82.
Meyer will also battle Kristina Li (Wootton) for the record in the girls’ 100 backstroke. Li got the better of Meyer at Metros, finishing in 54.85 to Meyer’s 55.55. The current record is 1:00.53.
Senior Ellen Anderson (Gaithersburg) will lead a field of Montgomery County swimmers in the girls’ 500 freestyle who have all gone under the current record of 5:08.06 at some point this year. Anderson’s season best is 4:52.02. She will also have a shot at the record in the 200 freestyle (1:52.69). Her season best is 1:51.23, but will have to get past Sherwood’s Anna Kolanowski (1:49.85) and Churchill’s Natalya Ares (1:51.98).
Ares has been under the record in the 100 butterfly, going 55.05 two weeks ago at Metros with an inspiring swim from the outside. The current record is 56.22.
Whitman’s team of Reia Tong, Sarah Kannan, Audrey Gould, and Meyer should also set new records in the girls’ 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle. The current records of 1:39.86 and 3:38.07 are well within reach for the Vikings’ stars. Whitman’s season best are 1:35.39 and 3:27.13.
Tong will be close to the record in the 50 and 100 freestyle events, as will Gould in the 100 breaststroke.
The fastest girls’ state record is the 200 medley at 1:48.36. Wootton’s girls’ 200 medley relay was 1:48.54 at Metros, but had Good Counsel’s speedy relay to chase down in the effort. The team of Li, Jessica Chen, Scarlett Sun, and Emily Zhang are all underclassmen and will have plenty of opportunities to eclipse this record in the years to come.
The boys’ side of the meet could have a similar story. Walter Johnson is aiming for more than just the team title. They also have a shot at collecting a number of records on the way, including all three relays records. But they face stiff competition in both 200 relays from the rest of the county elite.
Wootton and Walter Johnson’s boys’ 200 medley relays were separated by less than half a second at Metros, where they were more than four seconds under the current Maryland state record of 1:42.81. Blair was not too far behind Wootton and Walter Johnson in 1:39.85.
Churchill, Walter Johnson, Wooton, and Whitman will duke it out in the 200 freestyle relay. As with any relay, who wins will largely depend on where coaches decide to place their stars.
Walter Johnson has owned the 400 freestyle relay all year in MCPS. At Metros, the team of Barry Mangold, Garrett Powell, Ryan Whitescarver, and Jean-Marc Nugent finished in 3:08.73, which, if they could replicate that performance, would put them almost 15 seconds under the state record.
Senior Powell will be a big part of any relay record for Walter Johnson and is the favorite for two individual records as well.
Powell was an amazing 4:20.04 in the 500 freestyle at Metros, behind Jack Conger, who nearly broke the national high school record. Even if he is no where close to that time, he should go under the current record of 4:43.13. He will be pushed by a pair of Blair swimmers, Jack Foster (4:34.96) and Brian Tsau (4:36.87).
Powell will also compete in the 100 backstroke where he finished almost two full seconds under the state record at regionals last weekend.
Austin Cole (Churchill) and Mangold (Walter Johnson) will battle for the record in the 50 and 100 freestyle. Cole is the top seed in the 50 freestyle with a time of 21.34, nine-hundredths of a second ahead of Mangold, and .11 ahead of the current record. Mangold is highly favored in the 100 freestyle after an impressive 45.87 at Metros. The current record is 47.35.
Bethesda-Chevy Chase’s Graham Baird is the top seed in the boys’ 200 freestyle. His season best of 1:43.38 is well under the record of 1:45.89, but Wootton’s Kevin Fu (1:44.30), Churchill’s Joey Bieda (1:44.65), Clarksburg’s Joshua Kiehl (1:44.93), and Baird’s teammate Jamie Stevenson (1:45.19) all have a shot at stealing this one away from the sophomore. Baird is also the top seed in the boys’ 100 butterfly with a 52.13. The current record is 53.03.
[Updated] Blair’s Foster, Tyler Pham (Gaithersburg) and Harrison Gu (Churchill) will battle for the record in the 200 individual medley – currently 1:57.41, – with season best 1:54.02, 1:55.01, and 1:55.07, respectively.
In the final individual event, the 100 breaststroke, will most likely come down to who is ready to race that day, just as it has all year. Austin Dickey (Wootton), Fletcher Tollefson (Walter Johnson), and Gu all have a shot at the record and the individual championship title, making this an interesting race to keep an eye on.
Tags: Anna Kolanowski, Audrey Gould, Austin Cole, Austin Dickey, Barry Mangold, Charlotte Meyer, Churchill, Clarksburg, Ellen Anderson, Emily Zhang, Fletcher Tollefson, Gaithersburg High School, Garrett Powell, Graham Baird, Jamie Stevenson, Jean-Marc Nugent, Jessica Chen, Joey Bieda, Joshua Kiehl, Kevin Fu, Kristina Li, Maryland 4A-3A State Swimming Championship Meet, Maryland High School Swimming, MCPS, Montgomery Blair, Natalya Ares, Reia Tong, Richard Montgomery, Ryan Whitescarver, Sarah Kannan, Scarlett Sun, Walter Johnson, Whitman, Wootton