Thirteen turned out to be a very lucky number Sunday at the 25th annual Howard County Invitational Swim Meet at the Roger Carter Neighborhood Center Pool in Ellicott City.
Thirteen swimmers captured multiple first-place medals, and 13 meet records fell during the meet, which took place while the temperature at poolside was a sizzling 100-plus degrees.
Leading the pack of winners with four victories each were Brian Best of Clary's Forest and Frank Bowman of West Howard.
Best set a meet record in the 9-10 boys 25-yard backstroke with a time of 15.38 seconds. He also took top honors in the 100 individual medley (1 minute, 20.56 seconds), 50 freestyle (30.96) and 25 butterfly (15.45).
Bowman captured first place in the 15-18 boys 100 individual medley (1:00.58), 100 freestyle (52.18), 50 backstroke (27.66) and 50 butterfly (26.50).
Also adding their names to the record books were: Mark Nowacek of Hammond Park, 6-and-under boys 25 free (18.73); Joey Benedetti of Hammond Park, 6-and-under boys 25 back (25.35); Alec Best of Clary's Forest, 7-8 boys 25 back (18.31); and Denise Cinquegrana ofthe Howard County YMCA, 9-10 girls 25 back (16.06).
The meet was dedicated to Betty Straehle and her late husband, Bill, who died in September. Both had been involved with the invitational since its inception in 1967 and served as meet organizers for more than two decades.
"I'm going to miss working with all these young people," said a tearful Straehle, 69, a substitute teacher at Mount Hebron in her last year as organizer. "Swimmers are the best of the lot. With all the problems kids have to face today, it's nice to see these athletes achieving their goals."
Straehle's two children -- Tom, 31, and Betsy, 29 -- competed for Forest Hill.
The "open" age group for swimmers 19 and older, which was added to the list of events in 1989, provedpopular with meet spectators again this year. Most of the swimmers were in their late teens or early 20s, but a handful were Masters swimmers in their 30s and 40s.
Some members of the crowd jokingly referred to the Masters swimmers as "geezers" and the college-age swimmers as "breezers."
"It was a successful race. I'm still alive!" 43-year-old Brian Hiley of North St. John's Swim and Tennis Club said after his 100-yard freestyle race.
Hiley, who accompanied his 7-year-old son, Matt, to the meet, also competed in the individual medley, backstroke, breast stroke and butterfly events.
"I don't think the college guys have anything to worry about," added Rob Dobry of Hammond Park, father of Robby, 10, and Paul, 7.
"We're beyond being embarrassed. But this is a lot of fun," said the 36-year-old Howard County YMCA Masters swimmer.
Eight records were set in the open division:
Patrice Draminski, 20, who swims for the University of Delaware, clocked times of 29.58 in the 50 butterfly and 35.60 in 50 the breast stroke. Chris Gibeau, 20, of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, did the same in the 50 back (27.50) and 100 free (52.18).
Other open swimmers setting records were Ken McCormick of Dorsey's Search, men's 100 individual medley (58.56); Scott Heizer of Forest Hill, men's 50 breast (29.08); Lizzie Flynn, unaffiliated, women's 50 back (34.36); and Rachel Berkowitz, unaffiliated, women's 100 free (1:01.63).
Triple winners included Cedric Taylor, Cherie Sticha and Devin Balkcom, all of Harper's Choice, and Kara Killian of West Howard.
Taylor triumphed in the 11-12 boys 100 individual medley, 50 free, 50 breast; Sticha in the 13-14 girls 100 individual medley, 100 free, 50 breast; Balkcom in the 13-14 boys, 100 individual medley, 50 back and 50 butterfly, and Killian in the 15-18 girls 100 individual medley, 100 free, 50 back.
The meet, sponsored by the Department of Recreation and Parks, is divided into two divisions, A, for swimmers with faster qualifying times, and B, for those who primarily swim forneighborhood teams.
Participating clubs included Atholton, Clemens Crossing, Clary's Forest, Dorsey's Search, East Kings Contrivance, Forest Hill, Harper's Choice, Howard County YMCA, Hammond Park, Long Reach, North St. John's, Owen Brown, Oakland Mills, Phelps Luck, Roger Carter, Stevens Forest, Thunder Hill, Watermont, West Howard, West Kings Contrivance, Wilde Lake.
Results of 25th annual Howard County Invitational Swim Meet
9-10 Girls 100: 1. K. Keeton, WH, 1:15. 16. 2. D. Cinquegrana, HCY. 3. N. Feldhaus, WH.
9-10 Boys 100: 1. B. Best, CF, 1:20.56. 2. R. Bellamy, WKC. 3. J. Mazalewski, HC.
11-12 Girls 100: 1. M. Roesch, HC, 1:15.16. 2. T. Piekarski, WH. 3. D. Sticha, HC.
11-12 Boys 100: 1. C. Taylor, HC, 1:13.27. 2. C. Bowman, WH. 3. M. Zonarich, FH.
13-14 Girls 100: 1. C. Sticha, HC, 1:06.99. 2. M. Gibson, WKC. 3. R.Hewitt, DS.
13-14 Boys 100: 1. D. Balckom, HC, 1:04.64. 2. M. Conrad, DS. 3. B. Rubin, EKC.
15-18 Girls 100: 1. K. Killian, WH, 1:07.28. 2. L. Siskind, HC.
15-18 Boys 100: 1. F. Bowman, WH, 1:00.58. 2. R. Brown, TH. 3. S. Igoe, unattached.