Before Mark Gabriele left Calvert Hall to swim for James Madison, the outgoing captain made an announcement.
"Calvert Hall is back to stay," he said.
Gabriele spoke after Calvert Hall swept two dual meets from Loyola and won the MSA Championships last winter. It was the first time since 1983 that the Cardinals had the audacity to beat Loyola in a dual meet.
They outdistanced the Dons in the MSAs by 73 1/2 points, pulling into a 10-10 tie with Loyola in the annual competition for the Dutch Leidig Memorial Trophy. No school other than Calvert Hall and Loyola has ever won the trophy.
Another chapter in the MSA's best swimming rivalry will begin when Loyola entertains Calvert Hall today (3:30 p.m.). Both are unbeaten, Loyola at 5-0 in dual meets and Calvert Hall in four duals and two invitationals.
To hear the opposing coaches talk, Gabriele probably was right: Calvert Hall is back to stay.
Loyola coach Murray Stephens: "I think we have a chance. It should be closer than last year. We'll be competitive. Beyond that, it's hard to tell."
Calvert Hall coach Reds Hucht: "It's possible we can repeat 1991. It depends on whether we stay healthy and work hard. I've had trouble pushing the kids this year; I'm on 'em all the time. Loyola will have to beat us in the freestyle sprints, the 50 and 100."
The Hall's strength in the sprints carries over to the relays. Whereas traditionally there were only two relays in the MSA Championships, a third, the 200-yard freestyle, was added last year, and the Cardinals won all three.
"With three relays now, you need depth," Hucht said. "We always have a strong JV, and after a few years those kids come up and help us. We're strong enough so that we can have two teams in each relay and score points."
The coaching philosophies of Hucht and Stephens differ. Stephens doesn't believe in sprint specialists, but in distance and individual medley training to develop high school swimmers' "cardiovascular capacities and body musculature while they're still growing" with an eye toward making them better and stronger over the long haul.
"In high school swimming, there's no reward for that," Stephens said. "It rewards sprinting. If you don't focus on that, you're in a bad position."
Calvert Hall's best are Brad Francis, Bryan Brandt and captain Chris Betsher. A transfer from Illinois, Adam Blake, buttresses the Cardinals in the backstroke and individual medley.
Loyola leads with Mike Raley and Casey Barrett. Jason Roberts, second in the 100 freestyle in last year's MSA Championships, is out with a muscle tear in his shoulder.