Chris Scheier had an agonizing decision to make last summer: Go to high school in Australia or stay at Severna Park.
He chose Severna Park.
While his parents and two younger brothers are in Australia, where his father, Robert, a Computer Sciences Corporation vice president, was transferred, Scheier is living with a family in Gambrills for his senior year. William and Terry Taylor have four sons of their own; like Scheier, they are swimmers.
Scheier and nearly 200 other swimmers turned out for the third annual Anne Arundel County Swimming Championships yesterday at the Severna Park YMCA.
He swam under the Severna Park High banner for this one meet, but trains year-round with SPY Swimming of Anne Arundel County, an age-group program directed by Ken Barsa.
Scheier, who has finished in the top 16 in five events in YMCA National Championships, was second by four-hundredths of a second to Annapolis' Brian Bayse in the 100-yard butterfly and second in the 500 freestyle to Key's Rich Slingluff.
Severna Park, helped by Scheier and double winners Jason Golaboski and Megan Melgaard, won its third straight team title with 480 points, followed by Severn with 336 points and Broadneck, 191.
Scheier's Severna Park roots are deep. He spent last summer in Australia with his family, but decided to return here for his senior year.
"I loved it in Australia," Scheier said. "But school would have been a problem. I would have had to go another two years to graduate and it was an all boys school, with uniforms mandatory."
L He returned to Severna Park and was taken in by the Taylors.
"They give me a family situation," Scheier said. "It's tough in some ways, because I have to pay bills [money supplied by his parents] and balance my checkbook. But I'm more independent than before."
His has improved in the classroom. His 3.9 grade-point average for the first half of this school year has raised his overall grade average to 3.0.
"I don't know why my grades are up," Scheier said. "Maybe because I'm working harder to get into college, maybe because I want to prove to my parents I can do well on my own. It's tough, but I'm managing."
Barsa has found that young swimmers, who spend so much of their lives in the pool, make good use of their time out of it.
"Most swimmers budget their time well," Barsa said. "In 18 years with this program, we've had six valedictorians from high schools in the county."
Scheier, who wants to become a pediatrician, hopes to wind up at Lehigh next year. That school's academic standards, and its swimming program, appeal to him.