About 30 minutes after breaking a record held by one of the fastest swimmers every produced by the league, Eli Fouts stepped onto the blocks, dove in the water and re-set his own league mark in a second event with a performance that left coaches on deck at the Rockville Swim Center shaking their heads and smiling – happy for the swimmer and amazed at the swims.
Fouts, hanging loosely on the lane line while he exchanged handshakes with his competitors, smiled too. Fouts has a lot to be happy with after three weeks of fast swimming that concluded Sunday at Rockville Swim Center with his third and fourth league record-breaking swims of the summer.
The 14-year-old Manchester Farms swimmer began his meet by blazing through the league record in the 13-14 boys’ 50-meter backstroke with a time of 27.11 seconds. Fouts spun through the water with speed, strength and precision that beguiles his age.
The swim slashed over half a second off the previous record, set by three-time All-Met Swimmer of the Year Jack Conger in 2009. If Fouts can find the sort of focus Conger did as a rising freshman, Maryland swim fans are in for another great four years.
“It feels really good [to break Conger’s record],” said Fouts, who admitted he was nervous about taking on a record held by Conger before the race. “He’s really fast, and he went to Olympic Trials; it’s a pretty good feeling.”
He followed up his early performance by breaking the record in the 50 breaststroke that he set two weeks earlier during Manchester Farms’ final dual meet. In the Dolphins meet at Germantown, Fouts became the first 14 and under in the area to break the 31-second barrier with a time of 30.93 – a milestone never reached by Carsten Vissering or Eric Friedland before Fouts.
But Fouts, who trains with RMSC year-round, saw his time eclipsed by a swimmer in the Northern Virginia Swim League a week after his record-breaking swim, supplying him new motivation entering Sunday’s event despite already possessing the record. Fouts blasted a 30.79, a full 2.1 seconds faster than second-place to win the race and reclaim the area’s top spot.
“It felt not as stressful. Backstroke was my stressful [event],” Fouts said. “I already had the record in breaststroke and I just wanted to go faster.”
Before this weekend, Fouts had never won an all-star event. His highest finish came in 2012 when he finished nearly a second behind Rockville’s Sanjay Wijeskera in the 11-12 boys’ 50 backstroke event. Wijesekera touched third on Sunday – 2.04 seconds behind Fouts.
A rising Quince Orchard freshman, Fouts also set his age group’s 100 individual medley record at last week’s divisionals with a time of 1:00.89, which gives him three of five 13-14 boys’ league records and should make his future high school teammates very excited.
“I’m pumped to get to QO,” Fouts said. “I already know the coach because he was one of my teachers in sixth grade. He’s waiting for me to come, and hopefully I can do my best for the team.”
His best in the 100-yard breaststroke (59.69), would have won the event at the MCPS Division II championship last year and placed eighth at Metros and makes him one of the top incoming freshman in the county.
If he can keep improving, he is likely to step onto the blocks next to Carsten Vissering, a rising Georgetown Prep senior, who is the reigning Metros champion in breaststroke and was also making waves at all-stars Sunday morning.
Vissering, 17, took down the record in the 15-18 boys’ 100-meter breaststroke with a blistering time of 1:00.74.
That time lowered the mark set in 2008 by Tilden Woods’ Eric Friedland, a former NCAA champion.
“I remember watching Friedland post that time at this pool and I thought, ’That will never be broken’,” said Little Falls Coach Jason Blanken, who holds the league’s third oldest record, set in 1998. “Vissering is just on a different level than everyone else.”
Vissering went out in a 28.7-second split and gutted out the final two laps to set the record, despite a brutal few months in the pool training with Nation’s Capital Swim Club’s elite Georgetown Prep practice group.
“It’s fun getting the record; it’s a really important meet for me since I think it might be my last MCSLs and I wanted to leave something behind before I finished my career,” Vissering said. “It’s a little sad [knowing I might not be back] but it was exciting to get that record.”
Vissering is likely to miss next year’s all-star meet and much, if not all, of the dual meet season as he heads off to the University of Southern California where he has already committed to swim.
“I had good results at summer juniors last year and this meet kind of indicates how I do at my taper meet,” Vissering said. “I think I was a 1:02 last year at this [meet], so to get a double-oh here has me pretty pumped.”
Vissering is the ninth-ranked breaststroker in the country heading into U.S. Nationals, which begin Aug. 3 in Irvine, Calif.
There he’ll attempt to place in the top two and earn himself a spot on the national team delegation heading to Australia for the Pan Pacific Championships in late August and next year’s FINA world championships in Kazan Russia.
He’ll need a swim like he had on Sunday if he has any chance of earning a national team berth.
Replicating his performance at Rockville in the long-course pool may prove difficult without the assistance of two extra walls, however. If he falls short of the podium, he’ll likely be headed to Honolulu with the junior national team to compete at Junior Pan Pacs, which has historically been a proving ground for future Olympians.
Goddard also won the 100 backstroke in 57.13. Mooers, who will swim for Boston College in the fall, picked up a second silver in the 100 IM behind Northwest Branch’s Michael Thomas, 59.22 to 59.30. Thomas is heading to UNC-Wilmington to swim next year.
Phoebe Bacon of Tallyho also set two league records in the 11-12 age group. Entering the meet, Bacon had already set the girls’ record in the 50 backstroke in Week 5 with a time of 31.56 and was expected to challenge the records in the 50 butterfly and 100 IM at all-stars.
She did better than challenge the records.
Bacon shaved a collective .62 seconds off the old marks in the two events. In the second event of the morning, the 100 IM, Bacon cruised to victory in a time of 1:09.04 to break Poolesville’s Lauren James’s record of 1:09.45, set in 2009.
Later, Bacon added the butterfly record by registering a time of 30.20 that broke a 14-year-old record previously held by Laura Eull of Country Glen.
As an 11-year-old, Bacon has another year to continue lowering the records in all three events.
Behind Bacon waits a strong last of 9-10 girls. Giulia Baroldi, 10, set the league record in the 50 freestyle with a time of 29.58. She broke Morgan Ribar’s record of 30.12, set in 2000. In second, also breaking the record, was Jillian Berger of Little Falls, who touched in 29.93.
Baroldi also missed setting a second league record when she finished first in the 25 butterfly in 14.98 – .02 off.
David Fitch, 10, of Potomac provided the seventh record-breaking swim of the morning when he clipped .19 seconds off a 20-year-old record int he 9-10 boys’ 25 breaststroke. His time of 17.18 bested Justin Pratt of Old Farm’s record of 17.37, set in 1994.
Fitch also won the 50 freestyle in 29.59 and just missing the Timmy Ellett’s record in the event by a hundredth of a second.
Other big winners include: Samir Elkassem, 8, of Country Glen (25 free and 25 fly); Brady Ott, 14, of Stonegate (50 free and 50 fly); Celine Nugent, 14, of Tilden Woods (50 free and 100 IM); Brett Feyerick, 11, Tallyho (50 free and 50 back); Emily Wang, 14, of Upper County (50 back and 50 fly); and Anna Wei Li, 8, of Woodcliffe (25 breast and 25 fly).