Fallston swimmers let good times roll along with wins Bigger roster adds to Cougars' fun

January 31, 1993|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

Eric Grepps is a typical Fallston swimmer. He likes to win, but he's no prisoner of the stopwatch.

"I'm really laid back," said Grepps, a team captain and the only senior on the team. "I like swimming if it's fun. That's why I mainly do it."

That's mainly why most of the Cougars swim. Only three, junior Amanda Kahmer and sophomores Irene Cronk and Jeff DeHart, swim year-round -- for the Harford YMCA.

While they're having a good time, the Cougars also are winning -- for the first time in three years.

Thursday night, Fallston edged Joppatowne, 229-214, and beat Havre de Grace (150) and Harford Tech (16) in a quadrangular meet at Magnolia Middle School. The victory marked the third time in six regular-season meets that the Cougars have won. They have won three of their past four meets.

"Last year, we came close a couple of times," said coach Mark Rhine, whose squad was fourth at last year's county championships. "We lost a couple of meets by 10-12 points, but a couple of teams that beat us, Edgewood and Aberdeen, we actually finished ahead of in the county meet."

The change has come with an infusion of talent that has boosted the Cougars' roster from 32 last year to 40 this season. The addition of 22 freshmen has given Rhine and co-coach Nancy Schroeder more options for filling out a roster to go against the county's top teams.

A steady increase in numbers has helped the Cougars rebound from a seventh-place finish in the 1991 county championships to fourth place last year. In 1991, the Cougars had just 20 swimmers, and only five were boys.

"We never had enough guys to fill up the relay teams. Each swimmer can only swim two relays, and with only four or five guys, that's only two relay teams," said Grepps, the only returning medalist from last year's county championships, having won the bronze in the 100 backstroke.

Now, with a full roster including 18 boys, the Cougars can fill all the relay spots. Those are the most important races since the points scored in a relay are double those of an individual event.

For the Cougars, those relay points are even more important because they don't have diving. Rhine said he couldn't find a qualified diving instructor, so the Cougars often give up 15 or 20 points just because they don't have divers.

This year, with two relay teams swimming each of the six relay events, the Cougars have added a lot of points to their final scores. Thursday night, six of their 12 relay teams finished in the top two.

Three relay teams won their events -- the girls 200 medley relay of Suzanne Sharff, Dia Kohut, Jody Wax and Kahmer and the boys 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays of DeHart, Grepps, Brad Snyder and David Fazenbaker.

Individual victories came from Kahmer (100 freestyle), DeHart (100 butterfly), Doug Loyd (200 IM), Wax (500 freestyle), Sharff (100 breaststroke), Snyder (100 backstroke) and Grepps (100 breaststroke).

For the Cougars, winning has brought about some changes in the atmosphere around the pool.

"Everyone seems to be excited," said Wax, a junior team captain. "I think winning has something to do with that, but so does having all these new people. Everyone's trying really hard. We don't have a lot people saying "I'm not doing that." Everyone is always willing to try something new."

One reason the Cougars have come together quickly is the amount of time they spend together. Not only do they practice four days a week, but they also ride a bus 25 minutes each way to and from the North Harford Middle School pool. "It's not too bad," said Grepps. "Everyone talks. Everyone gets closer that way and we're more of a team."

With the county championships coming up in less then two weeks, however, Rhine is confident the Cougars can do well if they ward off any more injury or illness. They have lost two swimmers, one with a dislocated shoulder and another with a chipped elbow. A third has returned from a bout with mononucleosis.

"I would be happy with doing as well as we did last year," said Rhine. "I would like to see us do better. I think the potential is there if we can stay healthy for the next two weeks."

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