During the Breton Bay Sea Devils' practices, time is set aside for swimmers to work on a specific stroke. But it's hard for Ryan Barber to choose his favorite or the one he's best at, so he does them all.
He displayed that versatility Saturday at his home pool--Breton Bay Golf and Country Club--winning all five of his races in the boys 11-12 age group to help the Sea Devils capture the 28th annual Southern Maryland Swim League Invitational title. The host team finished with 559 points; the second-place Town Creek Sharks scored 374 during the meet, which featured five squads from St. Mary's County.
Barber, 11, finished fastest in the 50 butterfly, the 50 breast, the 50 back, the 50 freestyle and the 100 individual medley. Clearly, four days a week of waking up at 6 a.m. and practicing with the Chesapeake Bay Aquatic Club is paying off.
It's also obvious that Barber is well-rounded--and not just in the water. He will start soccer next week and play through Memorial Day.
"I wish I had half the energy he [does]," said his father, Jim Barber, laughing.
The patriarch had a lot to smile about Saturday. Meghan Barber, 10, earned two first places and one second place, and brother Jimmy, 14, earned a first place and a second place. Sean, 13, and MaryKate, 7, also competed. But the Barbers weren't the only successful family last weekend.
Town Creek's Emily Dobson won the 50 butterfly, the 50 freestyle, the 50 backstroke and the 100 IM in the girls 13-14 class while her sister, 15-year-old Beth, won the 50 freestyle and got four second places in the 15-18 age class.
The Dobson sisters complement each other nicely. Emily prefers the longer distances, but Beth enjoys sprints better, saying, "You get in and get out. You give it your all."
Two Town Creek swimmers eclipsed league marks Saturday. Lisa Gabrelcik--who also won the 50 freestyle and finished second in the 25 breaststroke--swam 18.57 in the 25 backstroke for the girls 9-10 age group. The other record-setter was Mark Bohannan, who swam 21.38 in the 25 free for the boys 6-under age group to capture first place by almost five seconds. He also won the 25 backstroke.
While Bohannan is just beginning his competitive career in the SMSL, teammate Erica Browne--the oldest place-winner, at age 18--was finishing hers last weekend. She graduated from Great Mills High School in the spring and will not swim in college next year.
Knowing that this was her last meet and wanting to swim as fast as possible, Browne ended up winning the 50 breaststroke, the 50 backstroke and the 100 IM, and finished second in the 50 freestyle.
On Saturday, she was asked to give some parting advice for the younger swimmers.
"Just do it because you love it, because that's what I did," said Browne, who helps coach the younger Town Creek swimmers. "That's all that matters."
NOTE: Other multiple winners were Breton Bay's Lyndsey Mummaugh (four first places), Brian Carroll (two first places), Brittany Culpepper (three first places) and Town Creek's Chris Brennan (three first places) and Brandon Dillow (two first places). David Cudd of Tall Timbers won three first places and Igor Laray captured first place twice for the Elks.