Competition, fun, recognition

Annual meet gives high school swimmers a chance to represent their schools

April 18, 2007|By Will Skowronski | Will Skowronski,SUN REPORTER

While most stayed in Sunday afternoon to avoid getting drenched, teenagers from throughout Howard County were happy to get wet at the Howard County High School Swimming Championships.

For swimmers, the event represents the only time they can compete under their schools' names. The county school system does not recognize swimming as a varsity sport.

"It's a chance for kids who don't get recognized to represent their school," Mary Healey, whose daughter, Cori, is a junior at Atholton High School.

About 200 swimmers from the county's 12 public high schools participated in the 27th annual meet, sponsored by the Columbia Clippers at Howard County Community College, said Steven Klement, the meet director.

Amanda Welch, a senior at Oakland Mills High, started coming to the meet as a freshman with two teammates.

Klement said he remembers when Welch called and asked who her school's captain was.

"You are," he said. "I don't know of anyone else."

Welch wasn't discouraged.

"I thought we might as well see how it goes," Welch said. "I just love swimming, and I love my school. And I just wanted to bring the two together."

Welch started swimming competitively in seventh grade and now competes with the Baltimore City Swim Club, which practices six days a week. She is a serious competitor, but Sunday was a day to represent her school and have fun.

"This is just one day, and there's no qualifications," Welch said. "You just go and swim for your school."

Welch's team had 30 swimmers this year and won a trophy for their third-place finish. She said she was glad to see her time as captain end on a good note.

"This is the most swimmers we've ever had, and this is the best we've done," said Welch, who plans to swim for Salisbury University in the fall.

Erica Enders, a senior at Glenelg High, captained her team for four years.

"We weren't able to have a school team, so I thought this would be a great way for kids who swim to be able to represent their school," Enders said.

When Enders was a freshman, her team had four members. This year, it had 15. She said more students are coming out because they realize the meet is not only for competitive swimmers.

"People understand it's just a fun time," Enders said.

She said four boys on her team, who had never swum competitively, came to the meet wearing matching Speedos.

Colleen Schickner said her son, Andrew, a senior at Glenelg, decided to participate in the meet with friends, though none of them swims competitively.

She said they practiced three or four times, and she was calling her son Phelps.

"They took it serious enough, but they knew it was for fun, too," Schickner said. "I think they get more participants that way."

But Enders, who plans to swim for Ithaca College in the fall and swims now for the Eagle Swim Team, said the meet is the one time student swimmers can show off their skills to people who are not part of the swimming world.

Jeff Scrivener, who coaches the Columbia Clippers and had about 30 of his swimmers at the meet, agreed.

"They've been looking forward to it for months. For a lot of them, it's the only chance to get recognition from their school," Scrivener said. "This is the only time, once a year, that the rest of the kids see [that] they do something and do it well."

Healey said Cori had been looking forward to the meet for some time.

"Some of these kids are spending over 20 hours a week practicing, and there's no room for other sports," Healey said. "So, you know, it feels good to swim for your school."

Atholton, which had 25 swimmers at the meet, finished in first place for the third year in a row. The school won $200 toward a drug-free after-prom party and two trophies, one of which will be passed to the winning team next year.

"It felt good just to say there are swimmers out there," said junior Jenna Ferrari, one of Atholton's captains.

Howard High took second place and won $100 for its after-prom party and a trophy.

Individual swimmers took home medals.

Klement, who has directed the meet for four years, said the day ran smoothly.

"It went awesome," he said. "The kids were great."

TOP FINISHERS

Here are the team scores and top three finishers in each event of the 2007 Howard County High School Swimming Championships at Howard Community College:

TEAM

1. Atholton, 877.5; 2. Howard, 626; 3. Oakland Mills, 499.5; 4. Centennial, 480; 5. River Hill, 446.5; 6. Mount Hebron, 398.5; 7. Reservoir, 392; 8. Glenelg, 279; 9. Hammond, 227; 10. Long Reach, 205; 11. Marriotts Ridge, 165; 12. Wilde Lake, 138.

BOYS

200-Yard Freestyle Relay -- 1. Oakland Mills `A' (Saad, Nour; Molchany, Marcus; Abboud, Ahmed; Tomlin, Joshua), 1:31.78; 2. Atholton `A', 1:37.45; 3. Mount Hebron `A', 1:38.44.

200-Yard IM -- 1. Gabel, Brooks, RH, 2:04.56; 2. Wolter, Preston, ATH, 2:09.78; 3.

Fitzenreiter, Matt, ATH, 2:09.98.

50-Yard Freestyle -- 1. Tomlin, Joshua, OM, 22.20; 2. Donovan, Mitchell, CEN, 23.16; 3. Molchany, Marcus, OM, 23.96.

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