By Nelson Coffin
Despite having one of the smaller teams in the B Conference, Key School’s 13 swimmers came up big in a tri-meet against Maryvale and John Carroll on Friday afternoon at Calvert Hall.
The Obezags topped both Maryvale, 53-39, and John Carroll, 61-31, to pull off the sweep with the championship meet looming on Feb. 3.
The Lions earned their first win of the season by beating the Patriots, 56-36.
Key’s youth movement, featuring strong freshmen and sophomore classes, has been its springboard to success this season, Key coach John Villareal said.
The Obezags were paced by rookies Fiona Schere, a sprint freestyler and breaststroker, and Zoe Benitez (200 individual medley, 100 butterfly) and 10th graders Jessica Cline(200/500 freestyles), Anna Mednick (500 free, 100 backstroke) and Katie Anderson (100 free, 200 IM).
“Our underclassmen are strong in the pool and our upperclassmen are our team leaders,” Villareal said. “Katie and Anna sometimes organize weekend practices, because we only have three hours of pool time to practice (at the Severna Park Community Center's Aquatic Center).”
Despite her tender years, 14-year-old Schere is often is asked for swimming tips by her elder teammates, Villareal added.
Maryvale senior Jane Halvorson turned in a personal-best time in the 500 free while freshman Kyleigh Le Boutllier and junior Abbe Brant took on new events for the first time when a teammate was unable to attend the meet because of a death in the family.
Brant swam the 200 free for Le Boutllier, who challenged herself in the 200 IM for the first time.
“Both of them did better than I thought they would,” said Jared Welsh, who coaches the Lions with Maria O’Brien.
In other good news, Maryvale senior Abby Pue set a personal-best in the 100 back.
Welsh said that his 20 swimmers in the three-year-old program are a dedicated bunch who show up for 75-minute early-morning practice sessions at Brick Bodies in Timonium five days per week.
“When you think about that dedication, that’s special,” Welsh said. “I know it sounds cliché, but we really are a family.”
Welsh also pointed to one swimmer, Cici Infussi, who was sidelined for the season with an injury before the first meet but still regularly attends meets and practices.
“And that speaks to how much fun they are having,” he said. “They know where they stand in the conference (1-3) and that they’re not going to blow by anyone, but they treat every meet like it’s a championship.”
Even the team at the bottom of the conference, John Carroll, received some rave reviews from coach Larry Dukes.
He said that juniors Delaney Hopkins and Sara Nelson had good meets with Nelson winning the 100 fly.
Dukes added that senior Katie Smith’s first effort in the 500 free also went well for the Patriots.
“They all had good tuneups for the championships,” he said.