Inside the warm confines of the Edward T. Hall Aquatic Center in Prince Frederick each weeknight, the quartet of teams from across Calvert County that compete in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference often find the lanes crowded with neighborly rivals.
Swimmers from Calvert, Huntingtown, Northern and Patuxent high schools all know that space is at a premium for practices each night and they often spend stay later to practice with the Calvert Aquatics Club which also uses the pool. For many of the SMAC swimmers, the close proximity to competitors from other schools makes for good, friendly competition.
“There are some swimmers who swim for Calvert and Northern and Patuxent who also swim with me here during the CAC practices,” said Huntingtown senior Maddie Frick, who is headed to Towson University next fall to continue her swimming career. “It’s really a lot of fun because we all push each other to get faster.”
Frick has played a key role for the Hurricanes in individual events and relays over the previous three winters and should do so again this season as the team seeks SMAC and Class 3A South Region titles. Frick has usually bypassed the state championships at the University of Maryland in College Park to compete in her club team’s state championships the same weekend.
Frick noted her two primary events are the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 butterfly, but she is also excited for the Hurricanes’ 200 medley relay which will include herself, her sophomore sister Olivia Frick, Sydney Atkins and Emma Biehn.
Calvert High School senior Ben Voelker has narrowed his college choices down to a pair of NCAA Division II schools, Ashland University in Ohio and Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania where he plans to swim and major in broadcast journalism. Voelker has thrived in the 100 backstroke for the Cavaliers and is also seeking to improve his butterfly stroke.
“Right now my best time in the 100 back is a 53-low,” said Voelker, who also professes an interest in acting and has appeared in several plays at the school. “I want to break 53 [seconds] this winter and maybe go 52 low. I am looking forward to facing a lot of the swimmers in SMAC. [La Plata senior] Conor Vienneau is back this season and I’m looking forward to facing him at a couple of meets.”
Northern head coach Margaret O’Grady acknowledged that this season will be somewhat of a rebuilding year for the Patriots after graduating several top swimmers from one year ago. The Patriots return Joseph Bradshaw, Ben Pinto and Nyah Hartwell and the squad added incoming sophomore Jaydon Cunningham, who should do very well in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke, and freshman Alexia Zaidi, a longtime standout for Kings Landing in the Prince-Mont Swim League.
“Last year we had a lot of senior boys and the year before that we were loaded with good senior girls,” O’Grady said. “So, this year we’ll have to a little re-tooling. But adding Jaydon is going to help us for the next three years and Alexia is just a freshman and then next year we should get Lila Smith and Aspen Gallaudet. We have 34 kids on the team this year, but a lot of them are new.”
Inside the pool at St. Charles High School on Wednesday evening, swimmers from La Plata filled all of the lanes as the Warriors participated in a practice that did not go according to plan for head coach Mary Jane Cupples, who barked out her displeasure with the group during a brief timeout.
La Plata senior twins, Kris Schueller and Megan Schueller, both prepared for their final high school season in the pool on Wednesday by swimming in adjacent lanes. Kris Schueller, who is among the contenders for senior class valedictorian next spring, is looking to peak in several events this winter, while Megan Schueller is seeking to three-peat as 2A state champion in the 50 freestyle.
“My main goal is to win the 50 free again,” said Megan Schueller, who is still eyeing several colleges. “I want to break 25 in the 50 free and then break 55 in the 100 free, maybe even 54. I think several of our relays are going to be really good with me, Kaylee Cupples, Summer Maddox and then other girls who can swim free.”
“I really want to break 22 in the 50 free,” said Kris Schueller, who plans to attend either Johns Hopkins or Virginia Tech next fall. “My best right now is 22.2, but I want to get 21 high at some point. I think our relays are going to be really good this year, especially with Conor [Vienneau] back.”
North Point may have graduated four-year standout Mya Rivenburg, but the Eagles will have juniors Alyssa Rios and Amiya Ball and sophomore Emily Padilla in individual events and relays and junior Josh Doughty, fresh off a superb cross country season, returns to the pool along with Kyle Carter, Robert Polk and Mikel Reyes.
Thomas Stone sophomore Clayton Jameson and McDonough sophomore Cole Rapczynski will be among the top returning younger male swimmers in Charles County, while Lackey sophomores Mark Henson, Michael Ahern, Trevor Isreal and senior Travis Bradley will be among the Chargers’ top swimmers in individual events and relays. St. Charles seniors Tayton Hoeferle, Orlando Aguilar and Jared Smith will play key roles for the Spartans.
Swimmers from the trio of St. Mary’s County schools in the SMAC will also have their sights set on conference, region and state titles.
Leonardtown sophomore Ben Harms and seniors Ryan Northrup, Zach Claus and Alex Konecky will be among the principal Raiders. Claus won the 200 IM title in the 4A-3A East Region championships last season. Seniors Laurel Scott, Kate Smith and Lauren McCloskey and junior Samantha Holtz will lead the Leonardtown girls.
Chopticon senior Brian Kilroy, juniors Evan D’Angelo and Clay Bowser and sophomore Isaac Dalton will lead the Braves male swimmers, while senior Marissa Fields and juniors Sydney Gatton and Rosemary Wild will be the main swimmers among the Chopticon girls.
Great Mills graduated most of its top male swimmers, but Benji White returns for his junior season. The Hornets girls could still have an impact throughout the meets thanks to senior Lily Simmerman and juniors Jolie Gantzel and Kaitlyn Zhou.