The one drawback for the Prince George's County neighborhood swim teams competing in the 53-year-old Prince-Mont Swim League also turns out to be the summer league's best quality.
With 40 teams spread throughout six Maryland counties — Prince George's, Charles, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Howard and Calvert — and the District of Columbia, travel time to some competitions can be lengthy.
The vast area, however, provides swimmers invaluable experience.
“The first team we swam this year was up in Ellicott City,” said 13th-year Fort Washington coach Marty Stewart. “But it's really cool. It gives our kids a lot of exposure to other kids and what is out there.”
The Prince-Mont League was started in 1959 and has since continued to flourish — teams have joined the league as recently as three years ago.
The 40 teams compete in eight result-based divisions in a seven-week season that includes five dual meets, division championships and a season-ending all-star competition.
The season kicked off June 16.
Seat Pleasant-based Theresa Banks Swim Club won its first title last summer in Division A, the league's highest level.
At the end of each season teams' top times are run through a virtual meet electronically to help dictate division alignment.
That, Prince-Mont President and Laurel High School coach John Venit said, helps make every year different for swimmers. And it creates equal competition among teams, something beneficial for the athletes, he said.
“The cool thing is, every year you might swim someone different,” Venit said. “The movement makes it interesting, you're not swimming the same team every year.”
The PMSL follows USA Swimming rules and regulations and has been the starting point for many of the county's top swimmers.
It has also produced two Olympians: Friendly High School graduate Eric Henderson (Fort Washington) and Brad Schumacher (Whitehall), who was part of two gold medal relay teams in the 1996 Olympics.
The 2012 Gazette Boys Swimmer of the Year, recent DeMatha graduate Trevor Irish, won four events at last year's all-star meet — the 50-yard butterfly, 50 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 medley relay — while representing New Carrollton Recreation.
The Gazette Girls Swimmer of the Year, rising Eleanor Roosevelt junior Jennifer Clune won the 50 breaststroke. Her Greenbelt Municipal teammates include fellow Raiders Courtney Like-Mathews and Natasha Chomko.
Roosevelt's Daniel Chavez (Adelphi Recreation Inc.), Dennis Witol (Belair Bath and Tennis), Elizabeth Bailey (Suburban Aquatic Club) and Emily Boluda (Belair), Laurel's Ryan Pauling (Adelphi), Bowie's Steven Rigby (Belair) and DeMatha's Patrick Sheerin (New Carrollton) and Tyler Lucian (Northridge) are among the county's best who compete in the PMSL.
“Some years you might have to travel to Calvert County but the thing that makes this league special is the fact that it's good, solid competition,” Venit said.