The swim meet between the Emmorton Barracudas and Edgewood Aquanauts, the only two undefeated teams in the Harford Swim League, kept dozens of scorers, timers and judges on guard.
"There's going to be a lot of close races here tonight, so if you're not ready with your watches, just raise your hand," warned a Harford Swim League official, outside the Edgewood Middle School indoor swimming pool.
Indeed, neither Emmorton nor Edgewood held a clear advantage during the showdown Wednesday evening in the 11-team Harford Swim League Championships.
This year, Edgewood (10-0) took an early lead and held on for a 256-225 victory over Emmorton (8-1) in the two team's fourth straight meeting for the title. Edgewood won by an even smaller margin last year. Emmorton defeated Edgewood in 1990 but lost in 1989.
At times, Wednesday's meet seemed more like a shouting contest than a swim meet. But the loud cheering for teammates as they race along the water is all in fun.
"The kids that swim against one another will end up in practice with one another, swimming in the same lanes soon," said John McDonough, Edgewood head coach. "It's a healthy rivalry."
About a dozen Emmorton swimmers compete on the Edgewood Aquanauts year-round team. The Emmorton team competes only during the summer long-course season and is not sanctioned by U.S. Swimming (USS).
The rivalry spurred the swimmers to excel in many of the 55 events.
Emmorton swimmers broke 137 personal-best times, 15 team records and two league records. Swimmers who finished first through sixth received ribbons.
"The kids were really pumped up and did well," said Annie Lee, Emmorton's first-year head coach.
For the Barracudas, Susanne Breebak broke a league record in the girls age 13-14 100-yard individual medley (1:02.02), and Kathy Rising broke one in the 50 breaststroke (32.33). Rising also took first place in the 50 butterfly (39.48).
Breebak took first in the 50 freestyle (26.62) and 50 backstroke (31.48).
For Edgewood, Sherwin Sapasap swam the 100 individual medley in 56.93 and the 50 breaststroke in 28.88, both 13-14 league records. He also placed first in the 50 butterfly (26.09).
Also for the Aquanauts, Jennifer Murach broke the 15-18 100 individual medley league record in 1:02.65, and won the 50 freestyle (24.79).
Kevin Murach broke a league record in the boys 15-18 50 breaststroke (28.87).
The Aquanauts led the Barracudas, 228-204, going into the last seven events, all relay events. Seven points are awarded to the winning relay team.
Edgewood's Chris Holloway, Kevin Murach, Sally Paine and Jennifer Murach combined to set a league record in the 15-18 200-yard mixed medley relay (1:48.82) to help the Aquanauts hang on down the stretch.
Multiple event first-place finishers for the Aquanauts were girls 8-under finisher Megan Tolliver (25 freestyle, breaststroke and backstroke), girls 9-10 finisher Lindsey Prather (50 free, 25 butterfly), Jingi Fraser (100 IM, 25 breaststroke, 25 backstroke), boys 9-10 finisher Kevin Kenney (50 freestyle, 25 backstroke), boys 11-12 finisher Rex Sapasap (100 IM, 50 breaststroke, 50 butterfly), Omar Fraser (50 freestyle and backstroke), and boys 15-18 finisher Chris Holloway (100 IM, 50 freestyle, 50 butterfly).
Multiple-event winners for the Emmorton Barracudas include boys 8-under finisher Ben Garback (25 freestyle, breaststroke and butterfly) and girls 11-12 finisher Natika Dannenfelser (50 freestyle, breaststroke and butterfly).