By Jessica Berhang and Steve Good, guest contributors.
For many ages 6-18, summer doesn’t start until team cheers echo through the broad, sturdy trees surrounding the Wildwood Manor pool. Two weeks ago, the 2017 Wombats season — anticipated by teammates from Arizona, Florida and home in Bethesda — started with a splash.
As the season kicked off, school was still in session for many and afternoon-only practice attendance was a bit sporadic. Many Wombats hadn’t jumped in a pool in almost a year and Coach Andrew Tollefson and the rest of the Wombats swim team coaches put swimmers of different ages and abilities through vigorous workout sessions to get them in top shape for a fun, competitive season in MCSL Division C in 2017. Seeded first in the division coming into the season, after having been in Division B the past two seasons, expectations are high.
Time Trials were a great chance for teammates old and new to bond, support each other, and appreciate their achievements. Each swimmer challenged their friends to do their best and perform at an optimal level. The Wombats brought it, with a whopping 43 All-Star times put up on the board.
Wildwood then hosted its first very successful B Meet against Kenmont and put up another 19 All-Star times. In anticipation of stormy weather, the meet was quickly moved from Wednesday to Tuesday. Despite some last-minute scramble, the meet went off without a hitch with volunteers graciously modifying their schedules. Congratulations to all new Wombats who swam their first meet! There were team cheers, excellent swims and missed bedtimes – with the well-attended meet lasting past 10pm.
On Saturday morning, the Wombats came out guns blazing. Wildwood led its first A Meet versus Flower Valley from start to finish, winning by 84 points, 437-353.
Wombat swimmers put up a division-best 47 All-Star times, including 11 top-eight times in the 90-team MCSL in Week 1. Looking across Division C, only three teams put up 30 All-Star times or more (PW 38, NWB 31, WG30). Looking up at the two higher divisions, Wildwood Manor swimmers put up more All-Star times than half of the 12 teams in Division A and B.
An astonishing eight swimmers put up the maximum number (four) of All-Star times possible, including Clara Attar, Chris Emerson, Asher Good, Tatum Good, Emily Hsu, Nora Pottker, Eleanor Sun and Jane Umhofer. Also putting up multiple All-Star times were Elise Bajwa, Lexie Bishop, Hannah Holst, Matthew Pottker and Felicity Yetter. Lachlan Bartholomew, Matthew Laclef, Clayton Steiner and Tyler Van Wagener each posted one.
Relays were a strong point with the two, 200 Medley Relays taking 1st place (Clara Attar, Jane Umhofer, Paige Etris, Sophie Laclef for the girls… more on the boys later) and 3rd place. The Girls 175 Free Relay took both 1st place (Kansiri Sukduang, Eleanor Sun, Tatum Good, Lexie Bishop) and 2nd place to wrap things up.
Individually, Wombats took the top three spots (earning 13 of a possible 16 points in each event) in nine events, took first-through-fourth (resulting in a 15-1 event score) in the 11-12 Girls 50 Free and also took first-through-fifth (16-0) in the 13-14 Girls 50 Free.
Two 40 -year records fell on Saturday. First, Jane Umhofer bettered the Wildwood pool record in the 13-14 Girls 100 IM with a time of 1:11.69. For the past forty years, no one had put up a better time than P. Marks’ 1:11.8 in 1977. Of note, only tenths of seconds were gathered in 1977 due to the available technology at the time. Also knocking down a record from the Disco Era, Eleanor Sun’s 37.38 in the 11-12 Girls 50 Breast earned Sun a place on the Wildwood team record board, bettering T Bish’s 38.7 (tenths only) in 1977.
In addition to these two records, older than many Wildwood Manor swim team parents, three other records were broken by Wombat swimmers. Jane Umhofer bettered her own pool record in the 13-14 Girls 50 Breast with a 36.72 (vs. 36.87 from last year). Chris Emerson bettered fellow Tyler Van Wagener’s 15-18 50 Fly pool record with a 27.63 (vs. 27.72 from last year). Lastly, the Boys 200 Medley Relay event saw the fastest race ever amid the trees of Wildwood Manor, with the 1:58.62 pool record (set by Bethesda in 1996) bettered by two teams. The Flower Valley A Team put up a 1:57.87 to better the then-record, but was out-touched by the Wombats’ A Team, which finished at 1:56.70. A 21-year record broken by both teams in the same race. Congrats to Matthew Laclef, Chris Emerson, Tyler Van Wagener and Matthew Pottker for this accomplishment.
Week 2 will see Wombats sporting their tie-dye style at friendly neighbor Regency Estates. Wombats are looking forward to Wednesday’s B meet to earn more best times beads for their lanyards, hang out with friends, and cheer on fellow teammates, showing the best in Wombat Spirit. Best of luck to all the 9/10 girls swimming the IM this week.