Kingfish again are Tri-County champions
Chevington Woods swimming coach Kevin Yates said there is a special bond between past and current athletes in his program.
He pointed to that commitment as a key to his team's continued success in the Tri-County Aquatic League championship meet.
The Kingfish won their ninth consecutive title in the meet held July 25 and 26 at the Canal Winchester Municipal Pool.
Chevington Woods (891 points) finished first in the A Division ahead of Valley View (464), Huntington Hills (444) and the Pataskala Area Swim Team (297).
"We've been really blessed because once you're in a Kingfish, you're a Kingfish for life," said Yates, who was tossed into the pool following the awards ceremony. "I know swimmers that have tattoos of Chevington Kingfish on their bodies and they're 20-something years old, so it's really like a family and you never really leave."
Baltimore (427) was first in the B Division ahead of Canal Winchester (321) and Groveport (184).
Moundbuilders Country Club (261) finished first in the C Division ahead of Pickerington (149), Bexley (122) and Granville (32).
Divisions are based on club enrollment, and each division winner received a trophy.
Chevington Woods received several solid efforts, including from Justin Mathews, a senior at Pickerington High School North who was competing in his final league meet for the Pickerington-based club.
Mathews, who also was an assistant coach during the meet and expects to return next season to coach, was first in the boys 15-18 100-meter freestyle (56.05 seconds) and second (1:09.85) to Baltimore's Mitchell Dodd (1:09.58) in the 100 breaststroke.
"It was a great day," said Mathews, who competed with the Kingfish for 12 years. "I had a fun time with the team. All the kids are great to be around and fun to coach."
Multiple individual winners for Chevington Woods in the 11-and-over divisions were Kelly Mason in the girls 15-18 50 free (21.81) and 50 butterfly (31.31), Jason Mathews in the boys 13-14 100 individual medley (1:06.03) and 50 breast (31.95) and Nathan Campbell in the boys 13-14 50 free (26.65) and 50 fly (30.07).
Multiple winners for Chevington Woods in the 10-and-under divisions were Katie VanDyne in the girls 6-and-under 25 free (22.85) and 25 backstroke (26.33), Ethan Bush in the boys 6-and-under 25 free (23.67) and 25 back (27.85) and Rylee Kreinbrink in the girls 9-10 25 free (16.2) and 25 fly (16.58).
"The trophies are great, but what makes it worthwhile is the 10-and-unders and the 11-and-ups," Yates said. "I would say 90-something percent of our swimmers dropped time, and to see them achieve and drop time and improve on where they are that's really what makes a difference.
"Let the cards fall wherever they fall, but to see them drop time, that's the most important thing."
Other multiple winners in the 11-and-over divisions were Valley View's Ben Neff in the boys 11-12 100 IM (1:09.01) and 50 free (31.41), Huntington Hills' Andrew Martin in the boys 15-18 100 IM (59.7) and 100 back (58.66) and Kelsey Morgan in the girls 13-14 100 IM (1:09.26) and 50 breast (34.82), and Moundbuilders' Keely Lovern in the girls 15-18 100 IM (1:11.77) and 100 back (1:09.42).
Multiple winners in the 10-and-under divisions were Pataskala's Scott Faler in the boys 9-10 100 IM (1:31.19) and 50 free (34.98), Moundbuilders' Henry Whitman in the boys 8-and-under 25 free (19.07) and 25 breast (23.59) and Valley View's Kavanaugh Frank in the boys 9-10 25 free (15.99) and 25 fly (17.27).
Yates, who finished his third season with the club, coached the Granville High School swimming team for six seasons before resigning in April.
"It was a tough decision, but it was the right decision for me," he said. "The nice thing is I still have this, I'm still involved in the sport of swimming. I was in the Granville program for six years. I thought I left it in good shape, but sometimes when you feel it's time to go, it's time to go."
League president Matt Fortney of the Bexley Marlins team said more than 850 swimmers competed in the event.
Lancaster Country Club did not have a team in the league this season, but Fortney expects the Waves to return next year.
Shawn Cassady, who is a commissioner of the Canal Winchester team, said his club enjoys playing host to the event.
"It's nice to have this event, all these people coming in and out," he said. "It's work, but everybody does their part, so that's nice. We definitely have one of, if not the best, pool in the league."