- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
COLLEGE PARK — Northern junior Ben Lawless, a calm, cool and collected swimmer, entered the final meet of the 2012-13 season looking for the same thing all of the other athletes sought, a state title.
Lawless, at the Class 4A-3A state swim championships Saturday morning at the University of Maryland’s Eppley Recreation Center, did that times two and set a new state record in the process.
Lawless didn’t waste much time claiming that new state record as in the second event of the morning’s competition, the 200-yard freestyle, he touched the wall in 1 minute 40.59 seconds.
He not only dropped from his seed time of 1:44.46, but smashed the previous record of 1:43.01 by Graham Baird of Bethesda-Chevy Chase of Montgomery County.
Lawless, swimming since he was 8-years-old, said he had the state record time in the back of his mind.
“I was pretty sure I was going to break it. I finished the race and looked up and was like, ‘Yeah, I got it,” Lawless said.
Lawless wasn’t done yet. He later won the state title in the 500 free in 4:30.55.
The junior said his toughest competition came from Walt Whitman’s Mike Sullivan, who finished second behind Lawless in the 200 free and 500 free.
“I didn’t see him at regionals because he’s from Montgomery County,” Lawless said of Sullivan, “but he was tough. He placed second in both events.”
Lawless, who swims for a club team called Central Chesapeake, said the state competition has gotten a lot tougher.
“With Montgomery County now in, it makes it more challenging, which I like,” Lawless said. “It’s more fun because there’s more kids to race against. Our high school team is four really good friends that have enjoyed swimming together. This year has been one of the best.”
Lawless is good friends with Patuxent’s Chris Kahl, who won the state title in the 100 backstroke and finished in the 500 free in the 3A-2A-1A state championships that was competed later on Saturday.
I haven’t talked to him since states, but I’m happy for him,” Lawless said, “and I’m glad he got under five minutes in his 500.”
Lawless’ double state titles helped Northern finish ninth overall, first for a SMAC boys team, with 110 points. Walter Johnson of Montgomery County won the team state crown for the second straight year, finishing with 274 points.
Northern sophomore Tommy Cranford finished fourth overall in the 50 free. (22.27 seconds) and also placed eighth in the 100 free (49.76). Northern’s 200 free relay stood on the podium with a third-place time of 1:30.84.
Patriots head coach Carrie Bonalewicz said she was thrilled with how her swimmers did at the state level.
“I think that it is a wonderful experience for the swimmers to see how fast competition is in the state,” Bonalewicz said. “I’m also humbled that the boys did so well. It helped validate for them that even though Calvert County may be very small, they too have made their mark in the swimming world.”
Other SMAC boys teams scoring were North Point in 18th overall with 27 points and Huntingtown in 20th with 21 points.
Wootton of Montgomery County claimed the girls team state title with 329 points. Leonardtown captured 10th place overall, first for a SMAC team, with 75 points and North Point finished 24th with four points.