Saturday, January 28, 2012

Middle School Swim Championships

This weekend Holy Child participated in the area swim championships with our comparatively undersized team. With only eleven swimmers, we have been unable to field more than two relay teams all season, which is not necessarily a catastrophe for championships (each team can enter two teams into each of the two relay events), but has held our scoring down a little during our dual meets, because of course relays score more points than individual events.

While we may be short on quantity, we do have a good group of swimmers that punches above its weight. This is important because swimmers can only enter two individual events for championships, and so trying to fit those eleven into seven different individual events (50, 100, & 200 freestyle, 50 backstroke, 50 breaststroke, 50 butterfly, and 100 individual medley) while only entering each swimmer twice and yet trying to maximize our points is like playing Tetris.* Complicating things is the fact that none of our previous meets have included the 200 freestyle, and only two of them have even included the 100 free, so us coaches did not have a lot to go on in terms of times.

*A quarter just rattled into the "Vince Procacci swear jar."

Here's a quick rundown of our team: we have one absolute stud who has broken a number of school records this season, and can swim every stroke with a chance of winning the event (so we put her in butterfly and IM, as well as both relays); six good swimmers of varying degrees who allow us to have at least one possible scorer in every event (except possibly the 200 free because we haven't seen anyone swim it yet); three decent swimmers who are all capable at freestyle and one other stroke, but have serious limitations in others (one cannot swim butterfly, and the other two cannot swim breaststroke - I don't mean that they're slow, but that they cannot swim those strokes legally); and we have one swimmer who, well, she swims because her friends swim.

So with the group we had, our strategy had four basic points: we needed our "A" relay teams to place high and our "B" relays to sneak into the top 16 (both "B" relays were seeded just below the scoring cut line); we were relying on Olivia Drummond to certainly place in the top three and perhaps win both of her events; we essentially punted on having anyone score in the 50 free (there were almost 120 entrants, and our highest was seeded 24th); and we hoped to pick up enough points throughout the other events to acquit ourselves well among the bigger teams like Holton-Arms (35 or so), Stone Ridge (25), and NCS (25).**

**One other significant handicap I should mention; Holy Child does not have its own pool, but practices three days a week at a former school for special kids that is now a training center for the USPS. The pool doesn't have starting blocks, so apart from meet warm-ups, we have not really been able to practice starts this season. As someone who was at his best as a swimmer on starts and turns, this data point has worried me at every meet.

Did it work out? Well, almost. Due somewhat to our lack of an elite breaststroker, our "A" medley relay placed 10th, while the "B" team did not score. Our superstar, Olivia Drummond, finished 2nd in the 100 IM and 3rd in the 50 butterfly, and we also picked up a couple of points with other swimmers in the 100 free and the 50 backstroke. But this meet (which drew teams from as far away as Norfolk, Virginia) was just a little too fast for us. We had FOUR separate events where someone placed just out of the scoring range (top 16), with an 18th in the 100 free and 200 free, and 19th in the 100 IM and 50 butterfly. Also, unfortunately, our crack "A" team for the 200 free relay got disqualified (it must have been on a false start, although I didn't see it), negating the big points they would have gotten in 6th place (the "B" team did place 14th). But still, to come in 10th place overall in a championship meet with such a thin roster is an accomplishment, and on top of that, out of 25 total entries (21 individuals and 4 relays), 18 of them managed to record best times, which is a good result for a championship meet. Great job, Holy Child!