Cardozo and Wilson high schools won the 10th Annual Interhigh Swimming and Diving Championships in the boys and girls category respectively last week at Dunbar Pool.
The Cardozo boys team, which had been neck and neck in team scores with the Wilson team until the last event, needed to finish no lower than second place in the final event, the 400 meter relay, to gain enough points to win. They took second place, wrapping up the overall boys competition, as the runner-up Wilson team won the 400 meter relay in 4:12.08, more than six seconds better than the previous record.
H. D. Woodson finished third in the boys team championships, followed by Dunbar, McKinley, Roosevelt and Ballou. Interhigh schools missing from the championships were Spingarn, Coolidge, Phelps, Chamberlain and Anacostia, because they've yet to get the facilities to sustain a swimming team.
For the second year, the Wilson girls team took first place. Cardozo placed second, Woodson, third and Ballou, fourth.
As the competition began, Wilson was the defending champion in both the girls and boys category. Wilson Coach Terence Killen says his boys were beaten by a better team this year.
"I felt last year, Cardozo was the better team," Killen said. "They were in better shape and probably had one better swimmer than we did. They were in better shape this year because our pool was broken for six weeks. But our kids are outstanding."
Among the high schools, Wilson is thought to have the better pool facilities and thus an advantage. McKinley "borrows" the Fort Lincoln pool for practicing, Ballou goes to Highland Elementary School to prepare, while Cardozo has the smallest and oldest pool in the league. The swimmers at Cardozo call their pool the "tub." Nevertheless, Cardozo Coach Stanley Gainor says the determining factor of success isn't the facilities.
"I don't believe that because you have the best facilities, you're the best," Gainor said. "It's all about what you put into your program. Our kids are proud of our pool and that motivates them. I'm not crying sour grapes, but it's harder to run our kids though a practice because it the pool is small, but we do it."
Led by Mary Dore, the Wilson girls successfully defended their title, clearly outdistancing the other contestants.
Dore was voted the outstanding performer for the second year in a row. She surpassed her own meet records last year, including the 200-meter freestyle in 2:34.16 and 5:42.88 in the 400-meter freestyle. Her times were comparable to her male counterparts. Dore has been accepted on the University of Arizona's swim team.
"I think she's the best female swimmer around," Killen says. "She's a good leader, who's honest and dependable. She won't cheat you. She's always giving it her best. She has set goals and surpassed them."
William King of Wilson, who has had a shoulder injury this season, was voted the outstanding male performer. King anchored the record-shattering 400-meter relay team and broke the 100-meter freestyle record by hundreths of a second, with a time of 59.54 seconds.
Clarence Bell, Dunbar's swimming coach and director of the meet, says the competition between Cardozo and Wilson is indicative of how much the city's swimming talent has improved.
Gainor says swimming on the high school level is on the rise and "it's just a matter of time before the other schools get teams."