As Saturday’s Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming & Diving Championships got underway Saturday night, the glass doors to the spectator seating closed.
Those left outside peaked between heads hoping to get a glimpse of Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, who has redefined distance swimming in three short years, swimming in the final races of her high school career.
Inside, the energy at Germantown Indoor Swim Center reached a frenzied peak each time the Stone Ridge senior stepped onto the starting blocks.
As always, Ledecky delivered.
Ledecky broke her national high school record in the girls’ 200-yard freestyle, set last week at the Washington Metro Prep School Swim & Dive League championships, and chased her own American record in the 500 freestyle, set Friday night, before falling off the pace in the final three laps. She finished with the second-fastest time in history, a now-almost unfamiliar position for the 17-year-old world record holder.
It’s “definitely a bittersweet moment,” Ledecky said in a post-meet news conference — a Metros first, before stepping into a crowd of waiting fans. “I’ll remember the swim times, but I’ll remember the times with my friends more.”
Ledecky posted times of 1 minutes 41.55 seconds in the 200 freestyle and 4:27.88 in the 500 freestyle in her final meet, but mostly she lounged among friends, soaking in her final high school moments.
“Athletically, socially, academically, this has been the best four years I could have asked for,” Ledecky said.
Up next, “a lot of hard training until summer” as she prepares for August’s world championships in Kazan, Russia.
Georgetown Prep won the boys’ title, staving off a challenge from rival Gonzaga. The Little Hoyas won nine of 11 swimming events to total 478 points, sending off the most decorated class of seniors in Metros history with a second straight title. Gonzaga finished second (439). Walter Johnson was third (287).
Georgetown Prep’s “Fab Five” as they have come to be known were led by Carsten Vissering and Grant Goddard, who claimed fourth straight titles in the boys’ 100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly, respectively. Vissering, a Southern California recruit, lowered his own meet and pool records in breaststroke with a 53.22. Goddard, a Harvard-bound senior, narrowly missed his own meet record in butterfly with a 48.71, edging Einstein’s Rory Lewis by 0.08 seconds. Goddard added a victory in the 50 freestyle (20.65), and Vissering won the 200 individual medley (1:50.83).
“It’s so surreal,” Vissering said. “It hasn’t set in yet. We’re a family at Prep, I can’t imagine not swimming with these guys.”
In total, Georgetown Prep’s graduating seniors have won 15 individual Metros titles in four years. Adrian Lin, a Yale recruit, and Brandon Goldstein, a Virginia recruit, added podium finishes as well. The fifth, Joey Snodderly, missed swimming his last Metros after taking sick moments before the start of the medley relay.
“Those five boys have done anything and everything I’ve asked them to do,” Georgetown Prep Coach Matt Mongelli said. “It will be hard losing them.”
The future isn’t bleak for the Little Hoyas, however, as sophomore Matt Hirschberger beat a senior-laden field in the boys’ 200 freestyle in a meet record 1:37.13, touching out Gonzaga senior Brennan Novak (1:37.44) and Lin (1:37.44). He added a win in the boys’ 500 freestyle (4:19.95), falling off his own prelims pace by nearly three seconds — the second fastest time ever by a 16-and-under swimmer.
“None of us really had a great meet, but we won when it mattered,” Goddard said. “It’s been about our class for so long, but our sophomores stepped up for us when we needed them tonight. It’s their win too.”
Churchill repeated as girls’ champions, winning in as opposite a manner as possible from the boys’ meet. The No. 1 Bulldogs finished with 412.5 points, winning just one individual swimming event. Holton-Arms finished second with 245 points, followed by Blair (236.5).
Junior Hannah Lindsey provided the sole win, after holding off sophomore teammate Emily Wang, 56.22 to 56.78, in the 100 backstroke. Wang added a runner-up finish in the 100 butterfly, as well, finishing behind Madeira’s Kylie Jordan. The Snail junior, making her first appearance at Metros, won in a meet record 53.53. She also won the 200 individual medley.
Churchill went 1-2-6 in diving, entering Saturday with 61 points, led by Elaina Faerber’s 479.9 points. North Carolina-bound senior Kali Backer was second with 477.65.
Holton-Arms’ Caroline McTaggart won her seventh Metro individual title, setting meet and pool records in the girls’ 50 freestyle (22.69) and 100 freestyle (48.75).
Gonzaga junior Ryan Baker doubled up with a meet record in the boys’ 100 freestyle (44.85) and a victory in the 100 backstroke (49.33). Jack Crow won boys’ diving for Bethesda-Chevy Chase with an area-high 596.25 points.