Patterson makes big splash, wins, 69-23

January 28, 1994|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Contributing Writer

Last year, Patterson's boys swimming team gave Lake Clifton the fight of its life before twice falling to the eventual Maryland Scholastic Association C Conference regular-season and tournament champions.

Yesterday, the host Clippers evened the score.

Patterson took first place in 11 of 12 events, handing the Lakers their first loss with a 69-23 victory.

"We finally took the step from bridesmaid to first place," said Patterson coach Bob Abt, whose team pulled ahead of Lake Clifton for the C Conference lead. "I knew on paper that we were the team to beat this year, but I didn't expect to beat Lake Clifton by this much."

But swimming goes far beyond winning and losing. For city kids, it provides a much-needed alternative to the more highly publicized sports of basketball and wrestling.

Senior Andrius Vaitiekus and sophomore Mike Jaski, who led the way to Patterson's victory, are prime examples of why swimming is making a comeback in Baltimore.

Vaitiekus, who moved here from Lithuania more than two years ago, broke his school record en route to a win in the 100 backstroke (1 minute, 14.05 seconds), won the 100 butterfly (1:15.75) and swam a leg on the winning 200 medley relay team.

For Vaitiekus, swimming has been a part of life since first grade, when he was introduced to the modern pentathlon by his father. He learned not only to swim, but also to fence, shoot, run and ride a horse.

But the athlete soon concentrated his efforts in the water.

"I've always liked oceans and beaches," said the senior, who broke the school's backstroke record in his first meet. "I just love the water."

For Jaski, the road to success has been different. The sophomore plays football -- where he's a kicker and wide receiver -- and baseball -- where he's a shortstop and pitcher. He first tried competitive swimming three years ago to relieve his boredom over the winter.

"It gives me something to do," said Jaski, who has shaved 1:30 off his time in the 500. "If I didn't swim, I probably wouldn't care as much as I do about school."

Yesterday, Jaski scored wins in the 200 individual medley (2:54.03) and the 500 freestyle (7:29.53), and took part on the winning 200 medley and 400 free relay teams.

For Lake Clifton coach Kim Williams, the loss was still a victory.

"It's tough keeping the program up, but we're on our way," said Williams, who founded the BaltimoreCity Swim Club in 1986 to promote inner-city swimming. "We try to get to them when they're little and let them grow up with the sport. So far, it's grown tremendously."

200 medley relay: Patterson (Vaitiekus, Booth, Jaski, Collins), 2:07.66; 200 freestyle: Shaffner (P), 3:00.43; 200 IM: Jaski (P), 2:54.03; 50 free: Williams (LC), 27.20; 1-meter diving: Moody (P), 112.75; 100 butterfly: Vaitiekus (P), 1:15.75; 100 free: Collins, (P), 1:03.01; 500 free: Jaski (P), 7:29.53; 200 free relay: Patterson (Hannibal, Moody, Barr, Pendergast), 2:01.28; 100 back: Vaitiekus (P), 1:14.05; 100 breast: Hannibal (P), 1:28.44; 400 free fTC relay: Patterson (Collins, Booth, Pendergast, Jaski), 4:47.81.

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