The girls' 500-yard freestyle at Saturday's Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships was anticlimactic, just as it has been for the last three years. The difference was that Richard Montgomery senior Katura Harvey, not former O'Connell standout Kate Ziegler, was the one lapping the competition.
Harvey entered Metros needing victories in the 200 and 500 freestyle to complete her already stellar résumé. The North Carolina-bound All-Met had finished the 500 second to Ziegler twice, including last season when Ziegler, then a senior, set a national record in the event.
Harvey had the spotlight to herself on Saturday. She won the 500 in a personal-best 4 minutes 48.68 seconds, good for automatic all-American status. She also won the 200 in an automatic all-American time of 1:49.45.
"Swimming against [Ziegler] was special, but so is finally being able to win myself," Harvey said.
In completing her high school career, Harvey passed the torch to Rockets freshman Cara Chuang, who won the 100 backstroke in a meet-record 55.62.
The Richard Montgomery girls' team finished third at Metros, behind Good Counsel and O'Connell, and recently won its fourth-straight county title. With Chuang leading the way, it will likely stay near the top.
"Cara has gotten a lot faster this year," Harvey said. "It is really nice to have young swimmers at RM to keep it going and have another star. I'm very proud of her."
Chuang came into the meet eyeing the backstroke record because her best time was faster than the year-old mark of 56.56. Chuang's time Saturday set a personal best and was nearly two seconds faster than second-place finisher Heather Denman of Sherwood.
Harvey and Chuang teamed with junior Eileen Shi and sophomore Anais Menguy in the 400 freestyle relay and set a meet record in 3:29.67, beating the old mark by almost 1.5 seconds.
Celebrating a New YearWootton junior Sean Stewart scored arguably the meet's biggest upset by winning the 500-yard freestyle with an automatic all-American time of 4 minute 33.15 seconds. Stewart finished fifth in the event last season, and on Saturday he beat all four swimmers who placed ahead of him. The list of runners-up included Georgetown Prep sophomore Brady Fox, last year's winner, and Georgetown Prep All-Met senior Robert Grimmett-Norris. Grimmett-Norris placed second in 4:38.11, and Fox came in third in 4:40.47.
"I knew it was going to be a hard race because I swim against those guys all the time," Stewart said. "I just went out there and did my best and tried to represent the public schools."
Stewart said he intensified his distance training this season to position himself to win the 500. He took an early lead and pulled away near the finish.
Jackson Sets RecordPoolesville senior Kirk Jackson set a Metros record by winning the 200 freestyle in 1:40.55, 0.73 of a second faster than the record set by Walter Johnson's Daniel Mengering in 2005.
The record "means the world," Jackson said. "It's every high school swimmer's dream."
Jackson began the race strong and led by more than a second after 150 yards. He held off Grimmett-Norris, who won the race last year while Jackson placed fifth.
"It's my senior year, so I just had to go out there and go at it," Jackson said. "In this race, I didn't want to let go of the lead. Last year I went out fast and let [Grimmett-Norris] catch me. I didn't want to let that happen this year." . . .
After finishing third in the 200 individual medley, Whitman junior Mark Meyer needed to rest. He wasn't feeling well coming into the meet, and he didn't want to be "completely wiped out" for his race in the 100 butterfly.
It was a wise decision. Meyer dethroned defending champion Joe Knecht of Walter Johnson in the 100 butterfly with an automatic all-American time of 50.75, 0.03 of a second faster than Knecht. He also avenged his second-place finish at last year's Metros.
"I knew we were right there together, and he is a really good sprinter," said Meyer, who did not swim the event at the Montgomery County championships. "Toward the end of the 100, I think he gets a little bit tired. I'm a distance swimmer, so I thought I could pull it off. That gave me the motivation to win it." . . .
Eric Friedland's victories in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke fueled the Walter Johnson's boys' team to a third-place finish. The Wildcats followed their third county meet victory in four years by finishing with 232 points, behind champion Georgetown Prep (460.5) and runner-up Gonzaga (310).
"All our kids swam really well," Walter Johnson Coach Jamie Grimes said. "I think we had the most guys make it back [to the finals] since I've been here. I think overall everybody came together and swam some of their best races of the season."
Friedland trailed in the individual medley before the breaststroke but pulled away while swimming his specialty. His time of 1:51.94 qualified for automatic all-American status.
In the 100 breaststroke, Friedland's time of 56.40 was the fastest of a whopping six automatic all-American times in the event. His time of 56.40 was 0.03 of a second shy of the meet record.
The Wildcats' girls' team placed fourth at the meet (240 points), second among public schools to Richard Montgomery (291).