SwimMAC Carolina is a national champion – again.The Charlotte-based swim club won the 2012 Speedo Winter Junior National Championship in Knoxville, Tenn., on Dec. 8. The win is the club’s second junior national championship this year, after winning the Speedo Summer Junior National Championship in Indianapolis. SwimMAC CEO and Director of Coaching David Marsh said the competition at the winter event was some of the toughest he had seen, with times comparable to college-level swimming. “It absolutely was the best 18-under (group) that perhaps has ever come together for junior nationals,” he said. “I’ve never seen some of the performance levels that were … at this competition.”SwimMAC Carolina scored 674 points to win, beating second-place Bolles School by 113 points. The team broke three meet records, two national age-group records and 16 state age-group records.The men’s team was the strength in the summer title, but the women led SwimMAC this time, finishing first with 405 points. The men’s team finished second to Bolles School with 269. “To come out with a strong victory … was a real testament to the continued improvement that our young swimmers are making,” Marsh said. Kathleen Baker (Forsyth Country Day) was the meet’s female high-point scorer after winning national championships in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke and 200-yard individual medley. She set a meet record in the IM and broke state age-group records in her other two events. Baker also finished third in the 100-yard breaststroke, fifth in the 100 butterfly and eighth in the 100 freestyle.Baker’s goal was to win high-point scorer, but when Marsh saw her starting to get tired during the meet, he told her she could take a step back from that challenge. “She would have none of that,” Marsh said. “She wanted to challenge herself to carry through with her goal.”“It was one of the most ultimate tests of endurance I’ve ever seen,” he said. In addition to Baker’s individual championships, the women’s team won national championships in the 4x50-yard freestyle relay (Baker, Charlotte Catholic’s Nora McCullagh and Lauren Rhodes and Huntersville home-schooler Caitlin Casazza), 4x50-yard medley relay (Baker, Casazza, Charlotte Catholic’s Elsa Welshofer and McCullagh) and the 4x100 free relay (Baker, Rhodes, Hough’s Jessica Merritt and McCullagh). The 4x50 freestyle and 4x50 medley relay teams broke meet and state age-group records. The 4x50 free relay also broke a national age-group record, and the 4x100 freestyle team set a state age-group record. The women’s team had second-place finishes in the 4x100 medley relay (Baker, Casazza, Pine Lake Prep’s Alyssa Marsh and Rhodes) and in the 4x200 free relay (McCullagh, Merritt, Welshofer and Rhodes), breaking state age-group records with both swims. Rhodes also finished fourth in the 50-yard freestyle, fifth in the 100 freestyle and seventh in the 200-yard free. Casazza finished sixth in the 200-yard butterfly, breaking a state age-group record.The men’s team was led by a second-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle by Providence High’s Kyle Darmody that broke a state age-group record. Darmody, south Charlotte home-schooler Matthew Josa, Charlotte Latin’s Michael Chadwick and Hough’s Jack Manchester teamed up to finish second in four relays for SwimMAC: the 4x50-yard freestyle relay, 4x100 free relay, 4x100 medley relay and the 4x50 medley relay. The 4x50 medley team broke a state age-group record, and the 4x50 free relay team broke a state and national age-group record.Marvin Ridge’s Lane Bretschneider joined Manchester, Josa and Darmody to finish second in the 4x200-yard freestyle.“All those guys, literally every time they got up for a relay, they put down some tremendous splits,” Marsh said.Manchester finished third in the 200 free and 200 back. Josa finished third in the 100 butterfly and 10th in the 100 free. Darmody also finished ninth in the 100 free, breaking a state age-group record. Since his term as an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic swim team, Marsh has spent more time working with younger swimmers, teaching an advanced class at Johnson C. Smith University. “Having a chance to coach the younger swimmers has been fun,” he said. “It’s just been such a pleasure to work with these young people, and I can really see them improving day by day.” For Marsh and the rest of the SwimMAC Carolina swimmers, this is the beginning of a four-year cycle that will end with the 2016 Olympic Games. Marsh said he thinks some of these junior swimmers will be competing for the U.S. in Rio de Janeiro. “We’re going to have some new Kyle Darmodys and Kathleen Bakers that are going to be the next wave of Olympians,” he said.
Friday, Dec. 14, 2012
SwimMAC wins another national title
Club adds Winter Junior Nationals to win at summer event
SwimMAC Carolina won the 2012 Speedo Winter Junior National Championship this year, the team's second national championship this year. PROSWIM VISUALS