Even though the Dublin Arctic swim team had won the North-East-West swimming championships five of the previous six years, coach Megan Novotny didn't feel like the Dolphins were the favorite heading into the NEW meet July 21 at Dublin Community Pool North.
After all, several of the Dolphins' top athletes weren't able to compete in the NEW meet, because they were participating in the USA Swimming Speedo Championship Series, held July 21-24 at Purdue University.
However, Arctic was able to win the NEW meet once again on the strength of its depth, as it totaled 860 points to finish ahead of Grandview Gators (781), Annehurst Piranhas (603), Dublin Pacific (597), Marysville Stingrays (574), Dublin Atlantic (442) and Northland Tigersharks (295).
The teams are split into the Olentangy and Scioto Divisions.
In the Olentangy, Arctic was followed by Annehurst, Pacific and Marysville. In the Scioto, Grandview was first, followed by Atlantic and Northland.
"I really didn't think we should be favored, because we lost a lot of our year-round swimmers to the big meet at Purdue," Novotny said. "But that meet ended up affecting a lot of the other teams, too, and we still had 50 kids here, and they all were able to step up and contribute to help us win this meet again."
Arctic was led by Katie Kaffenbarger, who was the high-point winner in the girls 13-14 age group, and Orion Martin, who was the high-point winner in the boys 13-14 age bracket.
Martin won all three of the individual events he competed in, breaking league records in the 50-meter butterfly (28.12 seconds) and 50 free (26.04), and winning the 100 IM (1:06.5).
"I've been swimming on Dublin Coffman's team, but this is the first time I've swam for Arctic since I was six," Martin said. "I came back to do this just for the exercise, but it's been nice to see my old friends and I feel pretty good about how I swam in my events."
Martin also anchored two relays to first-place finishes in league-record times. Dillon Horn, Louis Mayo, Grant Horton and Martin won the 200 free relay in 1:52.83, and the same four boys won the 200 medley relay in 2:08.22.
"It was fun breaking all of those records," Martin said. "It was nice to end our season on a high spot."
Kaffenbarger also won all three of her individual events, breaking the league record in the 50 free (28.84), winning the 100 IM in 1:11.97 and winning the 50 breast in 37.61.
"I'm really happy because I've never won that many events or been a high-point winner before," Kaffenbarger said. "
Kaffenbarger was a part of two first-place relays as well. Nichole O'Connell, Kaffenbarger, Suzannah Strange and Ashlynn Burns won the 200 medley relay (2:29.36) and Burns, O'Connell, Jessica Kinzeler and Kaffenbarger won the 200 free relay (2:11.38).
Kaffenbarger was 10 meters behind Grandview's Halli Bair when she hit the water in the 200 free relay, but Kaffenbarger caught her and edged her for first place by .48 of a second.
"I didn't know if I could catch her, but I hit the panic button and just swam as fast as I could," Kaffenbarger said. "We ended our season with a bang."
The only other high-point finisher for Arctic was Sarah Mayo for 15-18.
Other high-point swimmers for the girls were Grandview's Phoebe Ferguson in 6-and-under, Atlantic's Jordan Aurnou-Rhees in 8-and-under, and Annehurst's Cate Kray in 9-10 and Quincy McNabb in 11-12.
In the boys group, high-point efforts were produced by Pacific's Joey Caligirui in 6-and-under, Grandview's Charlie Ferguson in 8-and-under, Atlantic's Edward Michael in 9-10, and Marysville's Ryan Groehl in 11-12 and Ian Mickelson in 15-18.
Michael combined with Owen McQuaid, David Coss and Jonathan Liu to break 16-year-old league records in both the 100 free relay (1:01.71) and 100 medley relay (1:08.84).
Pacific's Soham Sorathia also set a new league record in the 25 back (28.29).
"The kids worked so hard throughout the season and there were a lot of great performances from all the teams," Novotny said.
Grandview's Bo Hawkins races in the 100-meter medley IM in the 9-10 division July 21 during the NEW championship meet at Dublin North.
Grandview's Maria Claypool competes in the 100 IM in the 11-12 age division.
The Gators' Claire Bills (left) and Allie Kramer cheer on their teammates.