The excitement was building at the Prince George's Community College indoor pool on Saturday afternoon, as the swim meet was about to begin. The swimmers from Eleanor Roosevelt and Bowie were getting fired up, huddling together as teams and directing cheers at each other.
Meanwhile, the swimmers from Oxon Hill sat quietly on the bleachers. Some watched the Roosevelt and Bowie swimmers; others played cards. Some of the Clippers had the feeling that they were the forgotten team at the meet.
"We knew that all the attention would be focused mainly on them," Oxon Hill junior Susan Smirnow said. "Obviously, they have the faster teams and they have a lot more people. We wanted to come here and try our best. If you beat your personal best time, then you won."
Eleanor Roosevelt has dominated Prince George's County swimming since it became a varsity sport in 1986. The Raiders' boys team never has lost a dual meet and has won 13 consecutive county titles. The Raiders' girls team had not lost a dual meet in 12 years--until last year, when Bowie beat Roosevelt at a dual meet and then again at the county championship. Those events boosted the interest in Saturday's Bowie-Roosevelt competition.
"Those teams [Roosevelt and Bowie] are the giants around here, but we don't want to make this just a Bowie-Roosevelt meet," Oxon Hill Coach Steve Holskey said. "We've got some good swimmers. We just don't have a lot of them."
All three girls teams entered the meet with 6-0 records; the Roosevelt and Bowie boys were also 6-0, while the Oxon Hill boys were 3-3. Roosevelt came out on top: The girls beat Bowie, 93-76, and Oxon Hill, 134-35, while the boys beat Bowie, 111-56, and Oxon Hill, 118-48. The Clippers also lost to Bowie (the girls lost, 134-35, while the boys fell, 94-62).
Still, Oxon Hill achieved its goal by having three-quarters of its swimmers set season-best times. The Clippers had two individual winners: Junior Jeff Gilbert won the 100-yard breaststroke in 1 minute 6.96 seconds, nearly six seconds ahead of the second-place finisher, and freshman Bryson Stewart won the 100 backstroke in 1:06.89.
"When you think of swimming in this county, you think of Bowie and Roosevelt," said John Shamburg, a junior and captain of the Oxon Hill boys team.
"We're trying to change that," he said. "We want to be up there too."