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Sun., Jan. 20 - brentsville-swimmers-counting-on-strength-in-small-numbers
Brentsville swimmers counting on strength in small numbers
© Gainesville TimesThe Brentsville District swimming program is not the same as it was just two years ago.
Gone are the back-to-back state championships won by the boys in 2010 and 2011.
Even claiming a solo gold at states like Justin Doyle did in his final high school meet last year is out of the picture.
Yet both the boys and girls teams, down to just about a dozen members each, still have realistic expectations for performing well enough in the post-season to send at least a few athletes to Christiansburg on Feb. 15 for the Group AA finals.
Last Friday night in Manassas Park, Brentsville faced defending Evergreen District champion Kettle Run one-on-one and came away crushed.
The Cougar girls won 194 to 83 while the boys took out their Tiger counterparts 182 to 89.
Such an outcome is not entirely unexpected; after all, Kettle Run sports a nearly 3-to-1 membership advantage over Brentsville on both squads.
Boys senior captain Sam Maranto is also the only Tiger left who competed on both state championship squads.
His experience showed in the water Friday as he won the 100 yard breaststroke (1:09.42) and the 500 yard freestyle (5:17.35).
No other Tiger won multiple events.
In fact, none of the other boys won at all.
Freshman Zoey Shields jetted to victory in the girls 100 yard butterfly (1:06.07) and sophomore Katherine Samsky took home first in the 200 yard individual medley (2:25.30).
Kettle Run swept the other 18 events for the boys and girls.
"Sam is a different kind of swimmer (than) Justin," said Brentsville boys coach Ashleigh Krzyswicki, now in her fourth year with the team.
She reckoned that while Maranto is not as fast as Doyle, he "could be in the finals" at states for the 100 yard breaststroke.
He's also qualified for the 100 butterfly too.
Yet Maranto, the overall fastest swimmer at Brentsville among the 11 boys and 12 girls, is tempering even his own expectations.
"I'd like to medal but that's tough competition," he said.
Maranto joins junior Aaron Romanowski as the only Tiger boys with state-level experience.
The two of them are partnered up on two out of three relay teams, swimming along two out of three members of the triple-threat Jack attack of senior Jack Czajkowski, junior Jack Sanders and sophomore Jack McGurk.
Freshman James Spencer and sophomore Reed Heltzel joined Sanders and Czajkowski on the 4x400 yard freestyle relay team.
All three relay teams came in second place on Jan. 18.
Sophomore Connor Bergeron is expected to compete on at least one of the relay teams too during the Evergreen District finals on Feb. 1 in Warrenton but splits time with the basketball team, so he's not able to make every regular meet, said Krzyswicki.
His return "will make our relays significantly stronger," she added.
Bergeron may qualify for states in the 200 individual medley while Romanowski is gunning for the same n that event as well as the 500 freestyle.
Meanswhile, Heltzer "has a lot of potential" for post-season success in the future as a distance swimmer, according to Krzyswicki, while Jordan Springman is an up-and-coming sprinter.
Jack Sanders, who specializes in the 100 and 200 yard freestyle, ended up as a co-captain not because of the raw talent that Maranto possesses but because of his leadership ability.
"Jack is more of a motivator to the kids that are not the superstars of the team," said Krzyswicki.
For the girls, Shields is already one Brentsville's of the elite members.
"She is a very competitive but very quiet," said Lindsey Tanner, head coach of the girls squad.
The freshman explained that she started swimming at age four and spent five or so years swimming throughout the year before taking a couple years off prior to high school.
"I just got talked into doing it but it turns out I like it still," she said.
Shields is already on the cusp of qualifying for states, coming within one second so far this season of reaching the mark in the 100 yard butterfly.
"I really think if she puts her mind to it, she'll be able to get that state (time)," said Tanner.
Unlike Shields, fellow freshman Emily Pavlina is an active year-round swimmer who, like her classmate, may have state-caliber potential in either the 200 individual medley or the 500 yard freestyle.
Samsky is another active year-rounder who, it turns out, used to swim with Shields years ago.
The two of them joined junior Daniell Golliker and senior Elizabeth Jerakis on the 200 yard medley relay team that took second out of sixth place Friday.
They also joined forces on the 400 yard relay team but ended up disqualified due to a early dive off the board.
Jerakis and Golliker also made up half of the 200 yard freestyle relay team with Alexis Hughes and Rachael Newlin.
Tanner mentioned that the smaller size of the teams means that the coaches "have to be a bit more strategic" in regards to which swimmers compete in which meets.
In fact, Krzyswicki mentioned that she spends hours before any given meet putting together lists of possible combinations, trying to determine the right amount of rest time for her athletes that sometimes compete in three or four events per meet.
"We're sprinters, so that's where I'm going to put stock in the kids," she said.
According to Maranto, the team is beginning to peak at the right moment if personal marks are any indicator.
"I've noticed looking at the results that people are dropping" their times, said the captain.
He specifically mentioned as one example sophomore Adrian VanHintum, who "wasn't feeling well" but dropped three seconds off his time in one of the two events he competed in anyway.
As for the post-season, "I'd like to get second (at districts) and I'd like to see my two relays make it to regionals," said Krzyswicki. "This year has not really been about winning and losing, it's been about improvement. But if they improve their times, the winning will come."
"I think a lot of us are individually talented; they just have to have the drive to get there and I think a lot of us do," added Shields.