Championships an afternoon of fun

February 07, 1994|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Sun Staff Writer

Many of the county's big guns turned out, not for the medals or even the competition, but as a display of school spirit.

For year-round swimmers like St. Mary's Nora Grannell, Spalding's Pat Evans and Severn's Joan Chidester, the second annual Anne Arundel County Championships yesterday at the Severna Park YMCA were little more than an afternoon of fun with schoolmates. For the second straight year, Severna Park (395 points) and Old Mill (243) finished one-two.

Grannell, on the advice of her coach, Severna Park YMCA's Ken Barsa, swam only the backstroke leg on the opening 200-yard medley relay and then retired for the day.

Grannell, a senior who has been swimming for Barsa since she was 6, set a national YMCA record (since broken) in the 100 backstroke in 1992 and broke another mark in the same event established by Theresa Andrews before she won a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics.

"Ken said I didn't need this meet for training at this time of year," said Grannell, who will try to reclaim her record at the National YMCA Championships in April.

Evans, a freshman who trains with the Retriever Aquatic Club, won the 200 freestyle yesterday and was second in the 100 backstroke.

"This wasn't that big a meet for me," he said. "I came to have fun."

Chidester, who swims for Navy Juniors, coached by her mother Carol, reached a peak in her swimming career when she finished fourth in the 200-meter freestyle in a personal-best 2:05.35 in the National Junior Long Course Championships last August.

"I had a rough couple years before that -- tonsillectomy, nasal surgery, lack of swimming consistency," Chidester said. After shattering meet records in the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle yesterday, she said, "It's a neat team experience."

On Saturday, Annapolis junior Kristen Nicolini ran the mile in the Millrose Games in New York's Madison Square Garden. Yesterday she was third in the 100 backstroke and sixth in the 200 IM.

In the mile race for high school girls won by Walter Johnson High's Sally Glynn, the only other Marylander in the nine-girl field, Nicolini finished fourth in 4:59.25, her best time ever indoors. Only a few days before had she resumed running after sitting out a month with a stress fracture of her foot.

"The doctor said, 'You're ready to run again,' " Nicolini said. "The swimming meet, well, it was a fun-type thing."

It might not have been fun for Key School's Travis Brandon, but he escaped injury when his starting block broke, and both he and the block tumbled in the water before the start of the 100 breaststroke.

Moved to another lane, the unshaken Brandon won the event in a meet-record 1:03.77.

The meet attracted 213 swimmers from 14 schools, an increase of 83 over last year's inaugural. Meet coordinator Don Ramsbottom said the aim of the sponsoring organization, Parents for Swimming, is to have the sport included in the county's varsity athletic program.

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