During the girls' 200-yard individual medley final at Saturday's Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships, Whitman Coach Jim Castonguay sat in the upper deck of the Montgomery Aquatic Center and watched in awe.
It was senior LeeAnn Chang's final race with the Vikings in the event she has ruled for three years in the area, and she did not disappoint. Chang opened up a 4.24-second lead after the third leg of the race and cruised to victory in two minutes, 4.77 seconds.
"It was unbelievable how she won it," Castonguay said. "She was pulling away from everybody off every wall and every start."
Chang's 200 IM victory was her third in a row at Metros. Later at the meet, she won her third straight 100 breaststroke title with a time of 1:05.06 that eclipsed the record she set two years ago.
Chang also led off the Vikings' runner-up 200 medley relay team. She forged a slim lead, but Good Counsel came back to edge Whitman by about two-tenths of a second.
Such performances have become the norm for Chang and will make her nearly impossible to replace.
"Many people will have to fill the void that we lose with her," Castonguay said. "And I've got a lot of great kids on this team. It's not to say they're not good, she's just that special."
This year Chang, who served as a captain, was, quite literally, unbeatable. She won every individual event she entered, no matter where Castonguay put her in the lineup.
"That's unbelievable because I put her in a lot of events where I'd say, 'Just see what you can do here,'" Castonguay said. "And she went out and won every time."
A Historical Win
Good Counsel's girls' team made Metros history Saturday by clinching its seventh consecutive team championship. No other team in the event's 39-year history has had such a sustained run of success.
The Falcons, however, will have a huge challenge in going for their eighth in a row. Good Counsel's girls' team will graduate an outstanding senior class this spring, including Amanda Burke, Rachel Parker, Rachel Tolbert and Janine Carlini
Still, the Falcons will have one of the area's premier swimmers for the next three seasons in freshman Liz Kemp, who won the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke at Metros Saturday. Kemp, who earlier this year broke Good Counsel's long-standing 100 freestyle record, swam a 57.58-second 100 butterfly to break a 14-year-old school record held by Beth Scott, who is now an assistant coach.
Scott was the first to greet Kemp with a hug after the race Saturday.
Underclassmen ruled the girls' competition Saturday, as six of the eight individual races were won by three freshmen and a sophomore.
"The freshmen this year are amazing," said Kemp. "Plus there's Kassy [Kugler, the meet's Most Outstanding Performer] who's a sophomore. The competition is unbelievable."
The young standouts were most evident in the 200 freestyle. Kugler won the event, and three freshmen followed directly behind.