On April 3, the PVS Zone All-Star Team traveled to New Jersey in defense of its 2001 Spring Zone All Star Swim Championship victory. However this year was much different. Gone were the overwhelming number of displaced Junior National swimmers of a year ago. Gone was the homecourt advantage of competing in a familiar pool and sleeping in your own bed at night. To complicate matters, Zones this year was being held the week after Spring Break for most schools in the Washington Metropolitan area. Despite these disadvantages the PVS Zone All-Star rose to occasion placing a strong 2nd place across the board to Middle Atlantic. The men almost claimed first place falling 19.5 points shy by a score of 487 - 467.50. More important than the final score though was the experience of competing at Zones, the forging of new friendships, and the fond memories that we will all take from this trip.
The team was led by the individual swimming performances of 10 year old Henry Tollefson, 14 year old Megan Newell, and seniors Chris Dufek and Kevin Fisher. Henry swam in five individual events and all three relays. Henry has these long smooth strokes that belie his incredible speed. He placed first in the 50 free (26.93), second in the 100 free (59.49), tied for third in the 100 IM (1:08.79) and placed fourth in the 50 back (32.06). Henry, along with Michael Flach was a member of all three gold medal winning 9-10 boy's relays Megan brought home top honors in the 100 fly with a time of 57.36. She placed second in two events, the 50 free (24.59) and the 100 free (52.94) and along with Christine Nichols, was one of two 13-14 girls to swim on all three relays.
Chris Dukek won two individual events (200 IM, 100 free) and placed third in the 200 free (1:43.34). In the 200 IM he dominated the field, winning going away, while establishing a new Zone Record with a time of 1:53.65. Kevin Fisher swept the butterfly events taking the 100 fly in 51.62 and the 200 fly in 1:56.23. He also was a late substitute in the 200 IM. Substitute or not, Kevin made finals and placed 6th overall. Both seniors were members of all three Men 15-18 relays that swept first place.
Adam Brenneman and Alan Fishman were the other two members of this impressive quartet that dominated the 200 free and 400 free relays and then made a stunning come from behind victory in the 400 medley relay over Metropolitan. The relay was a virtual tie after 100 back leg from Adam. Alan did everything he could to stay with the breastroke Zone champion from Metro, actually swimming faster in the first 50 and splitting a 58.99. Still, going into the fly PVS was down by two seconds or just under two body lengths. Kevin made up a ½ length on the first 50 closely the gap slightly. On the third 25 he started tracking down the Metro swimmer a little bit more and got to just inside of his toes going into the third and last turn. It was at this point Kevin turn on the jet boosters. Exploding off the wall with a tight streamline and tremendous kick Kevin came up for his first stroke at waist level of the Metro swimmer and proceeded to gnaw away at the Metro swimmer's lead. Kevin finished with a best time of 51.51 and when Chris entered for the final leg the Metro team had only a half second lead. The last 100 was a thing of beauty. No rushing of the stroke to try to get it all back right away, Chris just slowly took over. At every turn you could see the feet of the two swimmers flipping over and saw that Chris was getting closer and closer, until finally, on the last turn, Chris' feet came over and hit the wall first. Chris came out of the final turn with the lead and the PVS crowd going wild. The last 25 he pulled away for the win to chants of PVS by the team on the side of the pool.
I describe this race in its entirety because of what this race says about the nature of this year's PVS All Star Zone Team. This relay happened on the final evening of Zones, at the end of the meet. By this time Middle Atlantic had already sown up first place and all that was left to swim for was pride and the pure adrenaline rush you get from competing. This race was indicative of the entire performance of the PVS team. Saturday night was our strongest night. Instead of just swimming through the evening, the team rallied to outperform everyone on Saturday night, not just in the water but also on deck with our spirit. Swims like this happened all over the meet. There was Joseph Knecht who tied for ninth in the 50 fly. Since it is an alternate position for finals Joseph had the opportunity to swim a race off for the alternate position, knowing full well that no one scratches from finals at the Zone meet. Still, there he was, ten minutes after completing his 200 IM, on the block with the entire team on the side of the pool to cheer him on. Joseph won that race and won it with a best time that would have placed him first if he had swum it during the regular event.
There was Christine Nichols who was the lone PVS distance swimmer to win a first place. She won the 1000 free in an impressive display of strategy and a gutsy, exhausting 50 sprint to the finish to win the event by a mere three tenths of a second.
And then there was ironwoman Cathy Kenworthy. Coming into the final day of competiton she had already swum five individual events including the 500 and 1000 freestyles, 200 breastroke, and the 200 and 400 individual medleys. She still had the 1650 left to complete. She had actually floated the idea to allow someone to take her spot that might want an additional swim, that might be a bit more rested. 1650? Right. Again, it could have been easy just to swim through the event, but insteady Cathy battled with the girl next to her, first hanging on the girl's hip for the first part of the race, then making a move to take the lead from her. For awhile the other girl would make moves to try to pass Cathy, but she always had a response until finally Cathy pulled away in the final 200 finishing in 3rd place overall - her best finish of the meet.
Another impressive individual performance was put in by Becky Horning in the 200 free. Upset by her performance in the premlinaries, Becky made a commitment to take it out hard and grab the lead in the 200 free. She had a six tenths of a second lead over her nearest competitor at the 100 and was a second and half ahead of everyone else. I wish I could tell you Becky won this event but it was not to be. She faded to fourth but improved on her morning time by a second and a half. A smart swim? Maybe, maybe not - that is for her and her coach to decide. A spirited and gutsy swim nonetheless.
The 9-10 boys matched the trifecta of the 15-18 boys sweeping the top spots in the 200 free, 400 free, and 200 medley relays. Henry and Michael participated in all three relays, Sean Fletcher and Robert Nichols both participated in two of the three relays and Jesse Cunnigham and Victor Wang rounded out the final two spots. Henry and Michael were the sole members of the 1-2 club for the team. While many chances presented themselves, Henry and Michael were the only ones to achieve this feat going 1-2 in the 9-10 50 free. OUTSTANDING!
We had some other swimmers step up in events that they were not originally scheduled to swim. Already mentioned was Kevin Fisher and his sixth place performance in the 200 IM. Chris Dobson was a substitute in the 200 fly. Chris dominated his heat in the preliminaries and then came back to finish third in finals with a time of 1:59.39. Matt Wolff jumped into the vacant 100 breastroke slot. He dropped his best time by three seconds to make finals and finished 8th overall with a 1:02.28. Michelle Parkhurst substituted in the 13-14 girl's 200 free where she ended up being the top placed PVS swimmer just missing finals placing 10th. Jordan Zarin took on an extra event with the 200 IM. Jordan tried to downplay her event by indicating she would only swim a 42 split in the 50 breast. Well, Jordan surprise us and herself by splitting a 41 placing a strong 12th overall.
And then there were two: Elana McDermott and James Morris. Elana and James both swam only one event - the 1650 freestyle. It is one event but it is more than most swimmers swam over the entire meet. Seeing that the 1650 is the final individual event of final day of prelims on Saturday, Elana and James had to persevere through all of the shenanigans of the first three days, and try to keep themselves rested and focused for the one event at the end. Both did outstanding, Elana placed 6th overall in her event while James dropped twelve seconds in his event moving up to 10th.
The swimming in the water is only half the story. PVS was a spirited and close team this year. You may have done the "Boom Chicka Boom" cheer with your own swim team, but you have never actually experienced "Boom Chicka Boom" unless you have had Matt Wolff leading the cheer. The senior girls, led by Rebekah Teague took charge of the magic markers and began writing wise Chinese sayings on our swimmer's bodies. Well we thought they were wise Chinese sayings until we found out the sayings came from the back of her room key card. Although it might have said "Put plastic card into slot" it looked cool nonetheless. We determined that two rolls of toilet paper is not enough to keep Mason Walsh quiet.
We are also now unsure of which video is more motivating to watch before finals: the "Dreams of Glory" video feature swimmers from the 1996 Olympics, or "Legally Blonde". PVS practically brought warm-ups to a stop at Saturday morning prelims. On Friday, Coach Harry came up with the idea that we should come into the meet in the same fashion as the TC Williams football team did in the movie "Remember the Titans". Coach Harry had brought the video so on the way home from finals on Friday night we watched that scene from the movie.
The next morning, before boarding the buses to go to the swim meet, the team lined up in the freezing cold temperature in the parking lot of the hotel. We took a couple of practice tries only disrupting one hotel guest who was trying to back out of his parking space. At the meet we lined up in the long hallway leading onto the pool deck. We had second warm-ups so six teams were already in the pool, and because we were late getting on the bus, we were the last team to show up. We did a couple of warmup cheers and then proceeded onto the pool deck. Let me tell you, we had swimmers stopping in the pool and staring, dumbfounded at us. While most teams were still trying to wake up, stretch out, and get the blood flowing, here is PVS coming in awake, loud, and unified. No doubt it was fun and a great way to start the meet.
On Saturday evening we came back to the hotel after finals where we had a team party from 9-12:30. We started the evening off by eating dinner and then moved into the giving out of gag gifts. I will be discreet with the winners, not because there was anything that needs to be hidden, but because it is events like this that make going to Zones so much fun. One award given out was to the graduating seniors on the team. The following graduating seniors honored us with their presence on this Zone team: Adam Brenneman, Kevin Fisher, Alan Fishman, Cathy Kenworthy, Elana McDermott, James Morris, Rebeka Teague, Samantha White, and Matt Wolff.
All in all it was a tremendous experience. The coaching staff did an excellent job. I believe only one coach on staff, Evan Stiles, had previous experience of traveling with a PVS Spring Zone All-Star Team. Coaches Krissy Barlett (9-10), Harry Hink (11-12), Dan Jacobs (13&over boys), Todd Benedick (13&over girls) and Assistant Coach Evan Stiles should be given a week long Caribbean Cruise vacation for their enthusiasm and attention to every swimmer under their watch. Okay, at least a hearty handshake the next time you see them.
And finally, none of this would have been possible without the leadership, organization, and diplomacy of one Linda Crudup. She absolutely does it all. From getting the team outfitted, to making the hotel reservations and setting up the meals. She arranges for the transportation and sets up the schedule of events for the weekend. She makes all of the calls to put the team together, spending a good part of three weeks on this alone! She does all of this because she loves the kids and she loves swimming. Her attention to detail allowed us coaches to concentrate on the swimmers, and allowed the swimmers to concentrate on swimming. Thank you Linda. It is no coincidence that the recent success of the PVS Zones team has happened during your tenure as Zone Team Leader.
Until next spring. Swim fast, live slow.Other individual 1st place winners include: