Swim meets are typically among the loudest of high school athletic events.
The sound of constant cheers and encouragement to racers, arms and legs splashing in the water, reverberate in the indoor swimming facilities.
But Saturday’s dual meet between the Division I and crosstown rival Thomas S. Wootton and Walt Whitman swimming and diving teams at the Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center was uncharacteristically quiet.
The recent holiday break might have been a relaxing time for many high school students, but for Montgomery County’s top swimmers, no school meant more time in the water, enduring an intense club team training cycle.
While the meet, which was swept by Wootton’s boys and girls, featured competitive races, first-year Patriots coach Jacqueline Emr said her swimmers’ fatigue was evident on the pool deck between events.
“The kids were definitely tired. They weren’t cheering as much, they were kind of sitting down [in between races] and then just getting up to swim and the finishes weren’t as strong,” Emr said.
The Wootton girls remained undefeated with a 113-58 victory while the Patriots boys improved to 2-1 by a 109-62 score.
Both Whitman teams are 0-3 for the first time in at least six years.
A win over the defending state champion Vikings girls was a good start to the heart of the season for the Patriots, who coaches agree will be a major contender in February for the Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving and state championships.
Wootton is propelled by an impressive blend of both elite-level swimmers and depth. The latter, Emr said, makes a tremendous difference. She added that upcoming contests with perennial powers Walter Johnson and the defending Metros champion Winston Churchill will be a good gauge for the Patriots moving forward.
“We’ve been talking about it a lot, and looking at everybody at the end of [Saturday’s] meet, we definitely want to keep an eye on WJ and Churchill, but we’re kind of getting our heads in it, getting ready,” Emr said.
The Wootton boys have also presented themselves as a threat.
Emr and Whitman coach Geoff Schaefer agreed that Saturday’s competition, and the dual meet season in general, is a good opportunity for coaches to assess the personnel on their respective squads and experiment with lineup combinations in preparation for the division championships, Metros and states.
“I definitely put people in different events [Saturday] to see my options,” Schaefer said.
Wootton won eight of 11 events in both boys and girls competitions Saturday, including both relays, which are worth more points.
Matt Gibson (200-yard freestyle, 100 backstroke) and Kristina Li (200 freestyle, 100 butterfly) were multiple individual race winners for Wootton. Audrey Gould (100 breaststroke, 200 individual medley) was Whitman’s only double race winner.
“My swimmers were broken down,” Schaefer said. “The depth was where it should be but [the top swimmers] were definitely broken down. But that’s OK because you want to build up to Metros...Wootton is going to give [defending Metros champion] Churchill a run at Metros.”