Not wanting to get ahead of himself as his team pursued its 14th consecutive Tri-County Aquatic League championship, Chevington Woods Kingfish coach Kevin Yates was cautiously optimistic until he saw his relays perform.
The Kingfish won nine of 11 relays during the 11-and-older portion of the meet July 19 at Denison University, building a huge lead and virtually ensuring another overall victory.
Chevington Woods amassed 765 points to win Division I, finishing ahead of the Huntington Hills Froggers (399), Pataskala Porpoises (393), Bexley Marlins (361.5) and Pickerington Tiger Sharks (313.5).
"We're a smaller team so we had a target on our back. We were hearing that we might not be as strong as we've been in the past," Yates said. "Once the relays started and we looked strong there -- we had about 95 percent time drops, which is unheard of -- we were even more excited. We had a target on our back and we embraced that.
"We're fortunate that kids like to come back to our team. They start at age 6 or so and they don't leave."
Braden Hopkins won the boys 13-14 50-yard backstroke (meet-record 27.35 seconds) and 50 freestyle (24.34) to lead Chevington Woods, which got 11 individual wins.
"(Winning) shows just how much work we have put in throughout the entire season and how well our coaches communicate with us and try to make us better," said Hopkins, an incoming eighth-grader at Pickerington Lakeview Junior High School who laughed when he realized that at age 13, he is younger than the Kingfish's title streak. "Every one of these other teams has stepped up their game. I think we did, too."
As usual, the teams were divided into three divisions based on roster size. Swimmers 10 and younger closed out the meet July 20 at Denison.
In Division II, the Valley View Gators -- who were in Division I last year -- won with 405 points, ahead of the Moundbuilders Piranhas (214), Baltimore Sea Lions (89.5) and Johnstown-Northridge Jaguars (61).
The Groveport Fighting Fish scored 285 points to win Division III, ahead of the Canal Winchester Dolphins (190), Muskingum Makos (110) and Granville Stingrays (21).
A total of 1,551 swimmers competed in TCAL action this year.
Other individual winners for Chevington Woods were Amira Bzdafka in the girls 9-10 25 breaststroke (16.91), Matthew Galich in the boys 9-10 25 butterfly (17.91), Nicholas Galich in the boys 8U 25 breast (meet-record 23.5), Max Herrmann in the boys 9-10 25 free (16.6), Janessa Mathews in the girls 15-18 50 free (meet-record 25.23), Eva-Jolie Persall in the girls 11-12 50 free (37.09), Marcus Schwartz in the boys 13-14 50 breast (meet-record 29.44), Emma Simone in the girls 13-14 50 fly (meet-record 29.09) and Andrew Taulbee in the boys 11-12 50 free (36.83).
Winning relays were the boys 8U 100 medley (1:34.35), boys 11-12 200 medley (2:12.42) and 200 free (1:57.69), girls 11-12 200 medley (meet-record 2:12.29), boys 13-14 200 medley (meet-record 1:51.54) and 200 free (meet-record 1:40.85), girls 13-14 200 free (1:50.51), girls 13-14 200 medley (2:00.55) and the girls 15-18 50 medley (meet-record 1:52.99) and 200 free (1:42.2).
pace Huntington Hills
Kelsey Morgan won the girls 15-18 100 breast (1:05.26) and 100 individual medley (1:00.51), and Jackson Turnbull set two meet records in boys 9-10 to pace the Froggers.
Morgan is a recent Pickerington North graduate who will swim at Ohio University.
Turnbull's records came in the 25 back (16.39) and 50 free (29.56).
Huntington Hills' other winners were Bella Jones in the girls 13-14 50 free (25.93), Jason Stelzer in boys 8U 25 fly (meet-record 19.34) and the boys 9-10 100 free relay (1:03.67) and 100 medley relay (1:14.79).
standouts for Marlins
Seven individual wins, including two meet records, led Bexley to third place.
Millie Evans won the girls 11-12 50 fly in a record 29.52, and although she finished second to teammate Anya Hoy in the 100 IM, her time of 1:10.71 edged the previous record of 1:11.79. Hoy won the 100 IM in 1:09.8 and was second in the 50 back at 32.21, better than the previous record of 32.63.
Other winners for the Marlins were Sophie Dankof in the girls 8U 25 free (17.96), Ava Fortney in the girls 13-14 50 breast (32.79), Hayden Harpe in the girls 9-10 25 free (14.69), Vivienne Hoy in the girls 8U 25 breast (meet-record 22.78), Nathan Schellhaas in the boys 11-12 50 back (34.93), the girls 8U 100 free relay (1:16.18) and 100 medley relay (1:24.36) and the girls 11-12 200 free relay (1:54.56).
Tiger Sharks' Eberhardt
encouraged by meet
Nathen Eberhardt won the boys 15-18 100 back (meet-record 52.96) and 50 fly (24.07) and was part of the first-place 200 free relay (1:31.08) to lead Pickerington.
Eberhardt's backstroke time was .12 of a second shy of his performance for Pickerington Central in the Division I district meet in February. He competed in his first state meet the next week and finished 16th (51.96).
"This is my first summer swimming all long-course. It's been very promising so far," Eberhardt said. "I'm excited about my times coming from this meet. Just swimming every day and getting better, that's been my summer so far.
"This is a great time to see what I can improve on, taking every meet and trying to learn from it. I just came off tapering to put up these times. It looks promising from my end."
Pickerington also got wins from Paige Christy in the girls 15-18 100 back (1:05.22), Lily Essex in the girls 8U 25 fly (17.8), Curtis Leyda in the boys 6U 25 free (22.91) and Emily Schiele in the girls 11-12 50 back (meet-record 31.97).
pace Fighting Fish
Emma Hamilton and Maya Keane combined to win four races, and Keane set two meet records, for Division III champion Groveport.
Keane won the girls 9-10 25 back (17.8) and 100 IM (1:15.28). Hamilton was first in the girls 9-10 25 fly (14.87) and 50 free (31.12).
Spencer Keane won the boys 15-18 100 breast (meet-record 1:00.5), and the Fighting Fish got wins from their girls 9-10 100 free relay (1:02.17) and 100 medley relay (1:10.29).
Gabriele Vince Nervez and Mya Slones each set two records for Canal Winchester.
Nervez won the boys 13-14 50 fly (26.18) and 100 IM (59.63), and Slones was first in the girls 13-14 50 back (28.32) and 100 IM (1:02.04).
Korbin Martino set another record in the boys 15-18 50 free (22.65).
The Dolphins got four more wins from their younger swimmers, as Harper Ferguson was first in the girls 7-8 25 back (21.85), Bennett Hauderschildt won the boys 6U 25 back (25.85) and Zoey Werstak won the girls 6U 25 back (26.81) and 25 free (23.18).