Suitland High School senior Bryce Carrington gets to participate more in swim practice these days and that is a good sign for the Rams’ program.
When Carrington, who has been swimming since he was in fourth grade and more seriously year since middle school, showed up to Suitland swim team tryouts three years ago, he was met by just six other athletes with little if any experience in the water. Carrington spent most of his early high school tenure working with his teammates in more of an instructor role in the hopes of helping to grow the program.
In 2010 Suitland didn’t score a single point at the Prince George’s County championships. Behind the defending county 100-yard breaststroke champion Carrington, who has been a top 10 finisher in various events since his sophomore year, the Rams broke into the county’s top 10 on both boys’ and girls’ sides in 2012-13.
This year there are almost 50 swimmers in Suitland’s program, several of them participate in club swimming like Carrington, which bodes well for the program’s future.
“We had a very small team. I do take pride in [helping] to put Suitland on the map [with my county win],” Carrington said. “I think people are starting to realize you have to watch out for Suitland.”
Three years ago, Carrington prided himself on being a pretty good backstroker and had doubts the first time he was slotted in the 100-yard breastroke during a meet his freshman year.
“I was like, ‘I’m not good at breaststroke, I’m about to lose,’” Carrington said.
Then he fell into a rhythm.
One of the best parts of swimming, Carrington said, is that you get out of it what you put in. The more breaststroke training he did, the more his time dropped. That new strength coupled with his proficiency in the backstroke and butterfly made him one of the county’s best 200-yard individual medley swimmers. Last year he surfaced as the county’s top breaststroker.
Carrington said he prides himself on being the type of versatile swimmer his coaches can plug into a lineup wherever needed and he’s certainly proved over the years that he can score points in just about every event.
“I like helping the team out,” Carrington said. “In the end, we are just trying to win the meet. If they don’t need me, put someone else in the 100 breaststroke, I can do something else.”
While Carrington’s performance at last year’s county championship — he was the sixth-highest individual scorer, just five points behind the leader — has brought more attention to him and the Rams, Carrington said he does not feel pressure to defend his title, only motivated to back his breakthrough up.
A fourth-place finisher in the 100-yard butterfly a year ago, Carrington is also in line to contend for that title this winter with the top two finishers graduated.
Carrington’s time would have given him second place in the 100-yard breaststroke at last year’s Class 4A/3A South Region meet behind record holder Michael Scott from Huntingtown but he was disqualified. He also finished sixth in the butterfly; improving those results as well as bolstering better performances in the relay, Carrington said, are major goals for this winter.
The growth of the Suitland swimming program that Carrington has been a major part of is symptomatic of a recent trend in county swimming in general. While Eleanor Roosevelt remains the team to beat, the rest of the field is catching up. It’s been a long time coming, Carrington said.
“Everyone was always paying attention to Bowie and Roosevelt and no one cared who finished third or fourth but now other teams [are more competitive],” Carrington said. “I feel like [the rest of the field] is motivated by other teams doing well. Suitland might not have as big of a team but we have heart and we don’t give up. I think people see Suitland on the schedule now and they are actually going to have to work that week.”