Finishing kick a strong one for county swimmers

Haufler twins lead Carroll Aquatics to boys' team title at Straehle

  • Elly Culp of Carroll Aquatics, right, competes in the Girls 13-14 100 I.M. event during the Straehle Invitational Championships at the Four Seasons sports complex in Hampstead, Md. on Wednesday, July 27, 2011.
Elly Culp of Carroll Aquatics, right, competes in the Girls… (Staff photo by Brian Krista )
July 29, 2011|By Steve Jones

Eric and Alex Haufler have been swimming in the outdoor pool at the Four Seasons Sports Complex for several years.

On July 27, the 18-year-old twins made a final splash, combining for seven top-four finishes to help the host Carroll Aquatics Blue Sharks hold off Meadowbrook and Waverly Woods for the boys' team title in the 2011 Straehle championship meet.

The recent graduates of Francis Scott Key High School weren't the only Carroll swimmers to rack up the points.

Three county teams finished among the top 13 squads in the combined standings at the Central Maryland Swim League championship event, which drew a record 1,150 swimmers from 50 teams to Four Seasons.

Carroll Aquatics placed third in the combined standings, behind perennial powers Meadowbrook and Waverly Woods.

Nottingham, which finished 12th last year, improved to eighth place, while the South Carroll Swim Team came in 13th.

Eric Haufler took first in two events, the 100-meter freestyle and the 50-meter butterfly. Alex Haufler placed second in the 100-meter individual medley and the 50-meter backstroke, and both swimmers helped the Blue Sharks' 200-meter mixed freestyle relay team to a second-place finish.

"We're training for our long-course state meet next week, so this really helps prepare for that," said Eric Haufler, who will swim collegiately with his brother at Case Western Reserve University near Cleveland.

"Coming in first is never bad," he said. "but if I came in second and dropped time that would also be great."

Eric's brother was wistful about his final meet at Four Seasons.

"I'm getting ready to embark on a new journey in college," said Alex Haufler. "But I'm also going to miss swimming with my teammates in my home pool here. It's kind of bittersweet."

The Hauflers' effort was ably supported by several Blue Sharks' teammates.

Jared Vance placed second in the ages 15-18 50-meter backstroke, and also picked up top five finishes in the 100-meter IM and 100-meter freestyle.

Dan Moreno placed third in the 100-meter freestyle and second in the 50-meter butterfly.

Carroll Aquatics got standout performances in the girls' 13-14 age group. Elly Culp won the 50-meter butterfly and placed second in the 100-meter IM, while Emily Vance finished second in the 50-meter backstroke.

"I'm really happy," said Culp, whose return after a move to Florida last summer strengthened the Blue Sharks.

"Last summer, I was not swimming as competitively as I am now," she said. "I've come a long way in cutting down on my strokes and working on my endurance. We've been working on our times all summer, but in this meet the place of finish is more important to me."

Vance, who was 10 when she began swimming, was pleased to win her first medal.

"I improved a lot over the winter, and I feel that I can improve more," she said. "It really boosts my confidence. I'll keep listening to my coaches. They know how to get what they want from me."

While Culp and Vance will be Straehle competitors for years to come, South Carroll's Sarah Zetlmeisl will be swimming her next meet for the University of Pittsburgh.

The veteran swimmer closed her Straehle career with her first victory in the event, a triumph in the 50-meter breaststroke.

The recent McDonogh School graduate also placed third in the 100-meter IM and swam the second leg of South Carroll's fifth-place finish in the 200-meter mixed freestyle relay.

"This was my last meet, so I wanted to go out with a win," said the 18-year old, who plans to swim the 100 and 200 Breaststroke events in college.

"I've been swimming in this meet since I was 9, and I've never finished first before today," Zetlmeisl said. "I went to McDonogh partly because they had a swim program, and swimming through the winter for my school team gave me an advantage."

South Carroll also got first-place efforts from Sam Rea (9-10 25-meter breaststroke) and Timmy Tomsuden (13-14 50-meter breaststroke).

Nottingham's significant improvement was keyed by strong showings from Jason Ewart and Juli Burnett in the 13-14 age group.

Ewart became the only Carroll swimmer to post three first-place finishes, with victories in the 100 IM, 50 backstroke, and 50 butterfly.

"Winning is nice, but the only way to get better is to drop your times," said Ewart, who will transfer to Dulaney High in Baltimore County this fall. "I'm happy with the firsts, but I didn't get the times that I wanted to get."

Burnett's three top-four finishes also made a difference.

Following a fourth place in the 50-meter butterfly, the South Carroll High freshman placed second in the 50-meter backstroke and helped Nottingham finish third in the 200-meter freestyle relay event.

"It's more important to me to improve my times, because I feel that your greatest competitor is yourself," said Burnett, who will move up to the 15-18 level in 2012. "The biggest challenge next year will be pushing myself to get better against older, more highly-trained competitors."

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