- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
ANNAPOLIS — It was as if Leonardtown Raiders junior swimmer Mairyn Branaman was looking into a mirror of her sophomore swimming season after the Class 4A-3A East Region swim championships at the Arundel Swim Center on Saturday morning.
She broke the region record in the 100-yard butterfly event, winning it in 1 minute and 0.56 seconds, same as last year when she won the event in similar record-breaking fashion at the same regional competition.
She also finished second overall in the 100 backstroke (1:01.67), the same event she placed second in last year.
What Branaman does not want a reflection of is the state meet where she placed fourth overall in the 100 fly last year. She wants to better that, and she remembers what being at the state meet felt like just one year ago.
“It was really fun, and the entire environment was really great and really exciting,” Branaman said. “It’s a great place to be and to take in.”
Branaman said she will not be nervous in the last high school meet of the season at the University of Maryland College Park Eppley Center at 10 a.m. Saturday because, as she puts it, “It’s easy to get ready because of all of the excitement. ... Another year means another year of experience, so I can be more prepared and we’ll all be ready to go.”
Branaman’s regional championship was the only individual or relay regional title among the SMAC schools represented Saturday at the 4A-3A East meet that included the North Point Eagles, Great Mills Hornets and Chopticon Braves along with the Raiders.
Her exploits helped the Raiders girls finish third overall with 288 points, behind girls regional champion Severna Park of Anne Arundel County (296).
North Point finished seventh overall on the girls side with 145 points, while Chopticon was ninth with 97 points and Great Mills 11th with 63.
The Eagles boys earned a fourth-place finish with 241 points, behind region champion Severna Park with 331 points.
Leonardtown placed seventh overall with 172.5 points, while Great Mills was 10th with 84 and Chopticon 14th with 29.
The Leonardtown girls relays also each automatically qualified for the state meet — by earning a top-three finish — including the 200 and 400 free relays and the 200 medley relay.
The foursome of Taylor Garrett, Dianna Aud, Rosie Click and Michelle Wood made up the 200 free relay. Wood also helped the 400 free relay team qualify, along with Maddie Snow, Eden Mallory and Branaman. Snow, Branaman, Mallory and Laurel Kamosa formed the 200 medley relay team that advanced.
“I am just really happy that I can go back to states one more time before I graduate,” Mallory said. “It has been a really great year for everyone on the team, so I am happy.”
North Point senior Jon Mitchell placed second overall in the boys 50 free in 22.86 seconds. He knows what he will be working on throughout the week of practice leading into the state meet on Saturday.
“I believe that I have enough power to keep my stroke good,” he said, “but everybody is beating me off of the flips. I need to work on my form, but other than that, I am prepared and mentally ready. That’s all I have to worry about.”
Mitchell is not worried about the possible competition waiting for him at the state level, adding, “The guy who beat me in the 50 free today, I am looking forward to meeting more people like that and just going out there and doing my best.”
Mitchell was one of two North Point boys swimmers to automatically qualify for the state meet. Nick Essing punched his ticket to the meet with a second-place finish in the 100 free, finishing in 50.28.
“It’s pretty good,” Essing said. “At the beginning of the year, I was swimming a 54. So being down to 50 seconds is pretty good. ... It has been a lot of work and a lot of practice before school and after school.”
Essing, a junior, has his sights set on the state meet but is also looking toward the future.
“I am hoping to get a scholarship to a Division I school,” Essing said. “I am starting to get to that level, so if I can just get a little lower down, I mean, it will feel pretty nice.”
The Eagles boys 200 free relay team of Christian Fisher, Ray Blandford, Malik Johnson and Mitchell, with its third-place finish, also automatically qualified for the state meet.