Success in swimming is, among other things, a matter of buoyancy: gliding across the water surface, decreasing drag and availing a swimmer of precious air.
Success for UNC Faculty Staff Recreation Center / YMCA swimmers, however, was a matter of depth Saturday earned it to the top of the team standings for the third straight year at 2014 Chapel Hill Summer Swim League Championships at UNC’s Koury Natatorium.
“The Farm was just really tough this year,” said Anna Pudik, head coach of the Chapel Hill Tennis Club team. “They had the numbers; they had the depth. Both the Farm and (YMCA) Meadowmont have a lot of kids, and when you put them together, they’ve done really well.”
“We have a number of great swimmers,” FSAYM head swimming coach Matt Creatore said on Saturday. “We have kids on relays that work extremely hard and might be top swimmers on other teams. But it’s a very competitive environment. The kids have been swimming really well this year, and it’s not automatic. Our kids put in an awful lot of work.”
While Creatore insisted that FSAYM’s depth wasn’t just in numbers but in depth of character, if the squad’s priority was to win with grace, they had plenty of practice on Saturday, accounting for 15 of the meet’s 16 record-breaking performances out of 76 events.
6 & Under Mixed 100 Freestyle Relay: FSAYM — Ian Platts-Mills, Lance Hackman, Henry Lim, Curry Jennings (1:28.37)
6 & Under Boys 25 Freestyle: Curry Jennings, FSAYM (17.46)
7-8 Girls 25 Freestyle: Mia Oliaro, FSAYM (14.30)
9-10 Boys 25 Freestyle: Michael Volpe, FSAYM (13.24)
6 & Under Boys 25 Backstroke: Ian Platts-Mills, FSAYM (21.19)
9-10 Boys 25 Breaststroke: Michael Volpe, FSAYM (18.13)
7-8 Mixed 100 Freestyle Relay: FSAYM — Joshua Riegler, Charlie Ford, Andrew Volpe, Lucca Battaglini (1:06.38)
9-10 Mixed 100 Freestyle Relay: FSAYM — Jack Simon, Ian Cameron, Alex Lim, Michael Volpe (57.13)
11-12 Girls 100 IM: Meredith Riegler, FSAYM (1:05.69)
15-18 Boys 100 IM: Sam Freedberg, FSAYM (54.50)
15-18 Girls 50 Butterfly: Leah Abrams, SVGC (28.24)
15-18 Boys 50 Butterfly: Oliver Hudgins, FSAYM (23.77)
11-12 Girls 200 Freestyle Relay: FSAYM — Audrey Sept, Suzanne Earnshaw, Gabriella Battaglini, Meredith Riegler (1:53.35)
As for the final standings, nothing changed so much as it has stayed the same. As occurred at Summer Swim “Champs” in 2013 and 2012, FSAYM (2,903 points) bested a top three that included Heritage Hills Homestead Aquatic Center (H3AC; 2,053 points) and Exchange / Sunset Creek (EXSC; 1,615 points).
Rounding out the field were Chapel Hill Country Club / Ridgewood (CHCCR; 1,606.5), Southern Village / Governor’s Club (SVGC; 1,580.5), Chapel Hill Tennis Club (TCST; 1,147.5), Hillsborough / SportsPlex (HSP; 1,139) and Hollow Rock / Stoneridge (HRST; 966.5).
“The teams were pretty even this year – well, except for the Farm,” EXSC head coach Wes Wynmor said. “They have a lot of year-round swimmers, just like we did about three years ago.”
One of the longest-standing recreational sporting events in the Chapel Hill area, the Summer Championship meet gives a stage to annual competition among over 1,000 swimmers as young as preschoolers and as old as 18. Saturday morning’s competition featured swimmers in three age groups (Under-6, 7-8s and 9-10s) in open and relay swimming events. The afternoon featured competition among older swimmers (the 11-12 bracket, 13-14 and 15-18). Each swimmer was allowed to swim in up to three individual events and two relays.
The responsibility for playing host for each year’s meet rotates through the teams, and this year, organization fell to the Southern Village / Governor’s Club parents, with Pam Reed acting as meet director.
“My team is hosting,” Reed said. “I was in a leadership position last summer, and instead of moving into the position of head parents’ representative, I decided to do the ‘Champs’ instead.”
SVGC volunteer coordinators Cheri Hall and Jennifer Thompson said Reed was the tirelessly dedicated.
“She was the mastermind behind this meet,” Hall said. “It would not have happened without her. She spent countless hours (working).”
Both Reed and Hall credited fellow parents and volunteers for the success of the event however.
“Nothing would happen without the volunteers,” Hall said.
“I’d guess we have at least 50 volunteers from each team,” Thompson added, “and we have 32 timers alone.”
“The volunteers are awesome,” Reed echoed. “People step in and do what needs to be done, even when it’s not their job. Because communication’s so important, we even had people who were just going around from team to team and making announcements.”
CHCCR parent Christine Osborne said she preferred volunteering on the pool deck to spectating.
“Up in the stands you can’t see your kid, and you’re up with all of the noise and reverberation,” she said. “Here you’re with them, you can watch your kid, and it’s definitely not boring.”
“We’re partnered with the Governor’s Club, and they donated so many things,” Reed said. “They were just awesome. Also, our head official is Dale Poole, and he’s been doing this for around 16 years.”
Reed did admit that, as in previous years, many of the Summer League swimmers were out of town competing in a North Carolina Junior Olympics swimming competition.
“That’s always sort of an issue,” Reed said. “Our numbers were down a little today.”
“We lost about four or five of our best swimmers (to that competition),” EXSC’s Wynmor said.
With such depth, however, the FSAYM squad was able to withstand a slightly lower numbers.
“I think we had a total of 340 swimmers registered with us this year,” Creatore said.
Longtime TCST coach Anna Pudik said there were advantages to her smaller squad however.
“We had a really small team this year. I actually had to swim some of the (younger) girls from the morning in the afternoon’s relays,” she said. “But I like a small team: I get to know the kids better. And we also won the sportsmanship award this year, and that makes us very happy.”
Creatore also emphasized that scoring for his FSAYM swimmers was secondary.
“Our first focus isn’t on winning – it’s on being great sports,” he said.
“As far as the meet results are concerned, I think we’re doing well. We’re just hoping to continue our success.”
Creatore said the future for FSAYM looked bright.
“The great thing is that we’re predominantly a young team,” he said. “I feel as though, next year, the team should experience a lot of success.”
With FSAYM’s enduring numbers, other teams will need to dive deep in order to rise up and pose a challenge over the next few years.