Gonzaga’s team area was tucked in a corner at the Eppley Recreation Center, where a purple-and-white flag hung over a lonely set of bleachers. Every once in a while, a swimmer would return to grab a towel or a drink, but the section remained mostly empty throughout the Washington Metropolitan Prep School Swim Dive League championships Saturday in College Park.
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Coach Brian Kilner’s boys were busy in the pool just a short walk away. The Eagles had a representative in the “A” final of every event — and some featured three of the team’s swimmers in the top eight — as Gonzaga took home its 12th straight title.
“That’s something I think I take the most pride in as a coach: How many guys can we get into the ‘A’ final, [and] can we get that eighth place?” Kilner said. “… That’s one of the biggest points of pride in the program — just how many great swimmers you have and how many have bought in to the program.”
Gonzaga racked up 459 points; second-place Georgetown Prep was far behind with 260. The Eagles’ dominance was evident early: Finn Bacon, Trent Badrak, Malcolm McKenzie and Lucas Zidlicky claimed the 200 medley relay in 1 minute 35.29 seconds to start the meet.
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Gonzaga swept all three relays — two in comfortable fashion and one by a tenth of a second. Rival Georgetown Prep, swimming one lane to the right, was ahead by a little over a second with just 50 yards left in the 200 freestyle relay. Senior captain Aiden Bond quickly made up the distance, turning in a 20.18-second anchor leg to propel the Eagles to victory in 1:24.10; Georgetown Prep finished in 1:24.20.
“When I touched first, it was just a lot of joy,” Bond said.
An hour later, Bond held the team trophy above his head and counted to 12 with his teammates before they plunged into the water to celebrate another dominant year.
Holton-Arms Coach Malena Lair Ferrari knew her girls would be swimming with a target on their backs. As the defending champions, the Panthers returned to College Park eager to repeat but feeling the pressure.
“It is a scary position, for sure,” Lair Ferrari said before the meet. “I’m pretty sure some of our swimmers are very nervous, and the pressure is absolutely there.”
But when Lair Ferrari cannonballed off the blocks to join her swimmers in the water with the trophy Saturday night, the stress had disappeared. The Panthers clobbered the competition by posting 479.5 points, more than doubling runner-up Paul VI (213).
“Everyone made it back in finals except one of our swimmers, so that in itself is a success,” Lair Ferrari said. “When you add all these little things up, the win makes it so much nicer.”
Joyce Wu led the charge, winning the 200 individual medley (2:07.47) and the 100 breaststroke (1:04.17) in addition to being the breaststroke leg of the winning 200-medley relay (1:46.62). Wu celebrated with her teammates in the water, singing the Panthers’ fight song atop a lane rope that eventually broke amid the raucous celebration.