Three years ago when the perennial season-ending Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships was moved to early February to adhere to the decision for Montgomery County Public Schools' to compete in the state championship, many feared one of the country's fastest high school competitions would lose its luster. But the years since the switch have produced some of the most exhilarating Metros in recent history.
Saturday's 50th Metros held at the Germantown Indoor Swim Center was no different. Seven total meet records were snapped as Georgetown Prep boys and Winston Churchill's girls claimed titles.
“This is the 50th year, this meet has been around for a long time, and it's been fast for a long time,” Winston Churchill coach Brendan Roddy said. “There's this energy that you can't match sometimes. I always say I love watching fast swimmers swim fast and you get that here every year. You get to see records be broken. There's this underlying spirit of being in your high school colors that's not like a [club] meet where it's so large you can get lost in the shuffle. There's an intimate part about it that makes it more fun.”
Added Bulldogs senior Alicia Tiberino: “You always look forward to this meet no matter when it is. This sticks with you, it's an experience I'll never forget.”
The Little Hoyas, champions from 2004-2010, won their first Metros crown in four years with a 412-360 advantage over three-time defending champion Gonzaga. The Richard Montgomery boys, amid their best season in recent history and possibly ever, finished the highest of any public school in third with 280.5 points and Thomas S. Wootton (263.5 points) and Walt Whitman (258) rounded out the top 5.
Churchill, which led by 67 points after the diving competition was held earlier in the week thanks to four top-6 finishes, clinched its second Metros title in three years and third since 2009 by besting defending champion Wootton, 426-346. Walter Johnson (246) continued its resurgent campaign with a third-place finish Saturday. Richard Montgomery (238) and Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart (224) finished fourth and fifth.
This winter marked the second consecutive season Stone Ridge finished in the top 5 after nearly a decade outside the Washington, D.C. area's top tier, something that looked to be in question following runner-up finishes to Holton-Arms at the Independent School League and Washington Metropolitan Prep School Swimming and Diving League championships earlier this season.
The Gators were propelled by wins from junior Katie Ledecky, who set a national high school record en route to breaking her own 2013 Metros record in the 200-yard freestyle (1:42.38), won the 500-yard freestyle and then edged out Holton's top sprinter Caroline McTaggart as the anchor of the winning 200-yard freestyle relay. In Friday night's 500-yard freestyle preliminary round, Ledecky broke a six-year American record and become the first woman to break the 4 minute, 30 second barrier with her time of 4:28.71. The accomplishment was something Ledecky said she's had her sights on for some time.
Seven total meet records were broken Saturday, two of them by Georgetown Prep — Carsten Vissering in the 100-yard breaststroke (53.49) and Vissering, Grant Goddard, Brandon Goldstein and Adrian Lin in the meet-finale 400-yard freestyle relay (3:04.83).
“That was like an exclamation point on top of everything,” Lin said.
Other meet records were set by Sidwell Friends' Gavin Springer in the 200-yard freestyle (1:38.29), Sherwood's Morgan Hill in the 50-yard freestyle (22.97), Our Lady of Good Counsel's Brady Welch in the 100-yard freestyle (45.00) and Wootton's Kristina Li in the 100-yard backstroke (54.12).
Churchill won Saturday's meet with only two first-place finishes, a testament to the Bulldogs' depth. The evening was like a throwback to the Hoyas' dominance in the mid-2000s. Prep won seven of 11 swimming events, including two relays, which are worth double the points. The team's versatility could not be touched by anyone in the field.
Vissering and Goddard won two individual events apiece and Brandon Goldstein took the 100-yard backstroke. Goldstein, Vissering, Kevin Berry and Andrew Omenitsch opened the meet with a win in the 200-yard freestyle relay. The scary part is all Prep's top scorers are slated to return next winter.
“We almost won all the events, that's what we want to do next year,” Vissering said. “This is a new beginning [for Prep swimming].”