- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A small part of the excitement of being at a Leonardtown swim meet is just watching head coach Chuck Jacobs and all his motioning and shouting to his swimmers.
A much bigger part of watching the Raiders is seeing them rack up win after win and the rest of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference has been doing just that since swimming began a varsity sport several years back.
Leonardtown added yet another two wins to each of its boys and girls records during a sweep over McDonough and host Patuxent on Friday night at the Edward T. Hall Aquatics Center in Prince Frederick.
On the boys side, the Raiders (6-0 overall/SMAC) prevailed over McDonough, 212-62, and Patuxent, 187-93. The Panthers (5-3) earned the split thanks to a 174-96 decision over the Rams, who fell to 2-5.
The Leonardtown girls (6-0) also added wins over the Panthers (216-63) and Rams (210-68). Again, Patuxent (4-4) earned the split by virtue of its 161-112 win over the Rams (1-6).
The wins marked the continuation of the Leonardtown swimming dynasty. The girls, who notched their 100th career win last Wednesday against Westlake, are unbeaten since swimming was introduced. The boys are not far behind at 97-5 overall.
“Of course [winning doesn’t get old], but we measure success in so many ways other than wins or losses,” Jacobs said. “We’re just very fortunate that our team has had the opportunity to win a lot of meets. But it really just goes through the kids. We’re just really fortunate to have this tradition.”
Leonardtown junior Rachel Aaron, who won the 500-yard freestyle, agreed completely with Jacobs’ assessment.
“I think [our record] says a lot about what we do and what we put into it because what you put into it is what you get out of it,” she said. “Winning doesn’t really matter to us, it’s more about being a team and supporting your team because we care about that about more than winning.”
Combined, the Leonardtown boys and girls won 17 of 22 events including seven sweeps in the top three positions. The Raiders had a swimmer in at least the top three in each event.
“It’s great now because there’s so much more parity, so it makes it a lot more fun and some of the girls teams are starting to get a lot stronger,” Jacobs said. “It’s been a real treat as far as being a coach and experiencing what I’ve been able to experience so far. I’m excited about it. I’m happy for them, happy to see it happen.”
Mairyn Branaman won a girls meet-best two individual events when she swam to wins in the 100 butterfly (59.46 seconds) and 100 backstroke (1 minute 2.59 seconds).
The junior won the fly by more than 11 seconds and had a near-10-second advantage in the back. Eden Mallory (100 free), Michelle Wood (200 free) and Maddie Snow (200 individual medley) each won one event.
“I think the key to the race is doing what you feel comfortable with and to really practice a lot because practice is super important,” Aaron said of her win in the 500, which she claimed by almost 22 seconds.
The Raiders also swept the relays.
McDonough was led by dual winner Sydney Fuller, who swam to wins in the 50 free (26.59) and 100 breaststroke (1:18.38).
The Rams also placed third in both the 200 medley relay and 200 free relays.
“It went pretty good,” McDonough junior Nichelle Simmonds said of the 400, in which she swam the lead leg. “We had a new girl [Shelby Pflieger] and she did really good. It was really important [to start off well] because it determined where we’d be in the beginning.”
Patuxent’s Cassi Beck placed third in the 200 IM and 500 free, the latter event by lopping off eight seconds off her personal record.
“We knew coming in that it would be a tough meet, but we weren’t going to give up complete hope,” she said, “but we were focused on our own times and personal bests just to prove all our hard work is paying off.”
The Leonardtown boys were carried in large part by dual winners Taylor Osvatics (100 fly, 200 IM) and Caleb Kaslik (100 free, 100 breast).
“I’m happy with my swims and I’m happy with how my team swam,” Kaslik said. “I enjoy swimming because of my team, it’s because of them I’m here right now. I felt really good in [the breast] and I really enjoyed racing the people [I was up against]. It was a good challenge.”
Teammates Grant Pate (200 free) and Brennan Williams (50 free) each added one win and Pate and Williams also each added a second-place finish.
Patuxent received two wins from Chris Kahl, who took top honors in the 100 back (57.83) and 500 free (5:00.37). Steven Coley (50 free) and Morgan Duty (100 fly) each added a runner-up finish.
“I was really trying to break that 5:00 barrier, so I’m working really hard in practice,” Kahl said of his 500 swim, during which he still set a personal record. “I took it out harder than I normally would; I was tied about halfway through, but about then you realize the light at the end is near.”
The Panthers also swam to a win in the 200 free relay, thanks to the foursome of Coley, Kahl, Ronnie Forster and CJ Hall.
“It was a big lift for us to win one of the relays,” Patuxent head coach Jeff Ganoe said. “I think we saw a lot of better times on both [boys and girls] sides from the swimmers, and not just the seniors but all the swimmers. I think overall the team is starting to come together.”
Dillon Douglass (100 free) and Brendan Cox (100 breast) each had a team-high fourth place finish for McDonough and Cox (100 fly) and Shawn Cambell (500 free) each placed sixth in their respective events.
“I’m pretty happy, I swam some events I haven’t swum before but I’m happy,” said the Rams’ Gage Butler, who helped the 200 free relay team that also included Cambell, Cameron Kruemmel and Nathan Adams to a fifth-place finish in 1:57.19. “It went good because we finally got under two minutes. Our whole relay was fast and then I came in as the anchor.”
“I think the kids did extremely well and the majority of them dropped times,” McDonough head coach Annemarie Simpson said. “And a lot of them swam events they hadn’t swum before, so we’re building a team and now we have far more depth. We have a lot more events available to us so we’re definitely headed in the right direction. I’m very proud of what we did today.”
Still, Kaslik said he couldn’t get over the girls’ unblemished mark.
“The boys are doing great but the girls, that’s just amazing,” he said. “They’ve never lost a meet. I just think that’s really amazing.”