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Swim and Dive Championships

Danner, Lake Braddock Dive Right In

By Rich Campbell
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, February 6, 2005; Page E11

With only the 400-yard freestyle relay remaining at the Virginia AAA Northern Region Swim and Dive Championships last night, the Lake Braddock girls' swimming team had yet to win an event.

But a thrilling victory over South Lakes in the relay, along with a sweep of the top two places in Thursday's diving competition, propelled the Bruins to the title and a 263-236 victory over runner-up South Lakes at Oak Marr Recreation Center in Oakton.

Alex Anderson of Madison swims the 200 individual medley. Lake Braddock's Andy Brake won the 200 IM title; his team finished second. (Don Wright For The Washington Post)

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"Our girls' team has amazing depth," Lake Braddock Coach Kathleen Youngren said. "They are able to step up in ways that are unimaginable."

Bruins freshman Ashley Danner trailed South Lakes senior Nicole Pederson entering the final 25 yards of the 400 freestyle relay, but she took the lead with 15 yards to go and won, giving the relay an automatic all-American time of 3 minutes 33.67 seconds.

"I just thought that I had to go all-out because my team was counting on me," Danner said.

Lake Braddock earned a total of 50 points Thursday after junior Natalie West won the diving championship with 438.72 points. Bruins senior Sam Poyta finished second (421.20) and senior Katie Gordon was sixth (343.53).

"If it weren't for our girl divers, we wouldn't have won the meet," Youngren said.

The Robinson boys' team won its third consecutive region crown with 359 points, winning seven of 11 swimming events. Lake Braddock finished second with 271 points.

The Rams got off to a fast start with a comeback victory over Yorktown in the first event, the 200 medley relay. Robinson sophomore Zach Holmes erased a deficit during the final 25 yards to win by 0.01 second with a time of 1:39.60.

Robinson senior Steve Scheren, the reigning region and state champion in the 50 and 100 freestyle, successfully defended his titles with automatic all-American qualifying times. His time of 20.80 seconds in the 50 freestyle was more than a second faster than that of second-place finisher Warner Allison of T.C. Williams. Scheren finished the 100 freestyle in 45.35.

Rams junior Drew Finelli won the 200 and 500 freestyle titles in 1:42.68 and 4:36.72, respectively. Robinson also won the 200 freestyle relay and earned an automatic all-American time of 3:11.45 in the 400 freestyle relay.

Lake Braddock sophomore Andy Brake won individual titles in the 200 individual medley (1:56.18) and the 100 butterfly (51.92). Brake finished third in the 200 IM at last year's regional meet, an experience that allowed him to swim with more confidence yesterday, he said.

Jefferson senior Jenny Basel won the 200 IM title with an automatic all-American time of 2:05.28. Basel, a member of the Colonials' state championship teams each of the last three years, also edged Danner in the 100 breaststroke.

Yorktown senior Ari Molina defended his region title in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 58.80, and Langley junior Andrea Balint claimed her first region crown by winning the 100 freestyle in 52.17.

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