There is something special and seemingly effortless about the way Stone Ridge freshman Phoebe Bacon swims. When she pushes off the wall after the start of her races, Bacon typically establishes a lead over her opponents that she rarely relinquishes.
This strength was on full display Saturday night at the Germantown Indoor Swim Center in Boyds. Competing in her first Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming & Diving Championships, the 14-year-old phenom finished the girls’ 100-yard backstroke in a meet-record 53.94 seconds — the only Metros record of the night.
She also cruised to a victory in the 100 butterfly (53.54 seconds) to sweep both of her individual events.
“Every day in practice I’m doing as many kicks off the wall as I can,” Bacon said of her underwater ability. “It’s definitely the biggest part of my races.”
Bacon entered the meet with plenty of hype, having been considered a top emerging talent since she qualified for the Olympic trials last year. She also has a close friendship with five-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, whose school record in the 100 backstroke Bacon took down in her first high school meet.
“It means a lot just knowing that she’s there for me as a friend, as a guide,” Bacon said of Ledecky, an All-Met Swimmer of the Year at Stone Ridge. “It just really inspires me a lot.”
In Saturday’s team competition, the Walter Johnson girls picked up their first victory since at least 1997, when Potomac Valley Swimming, USA Swimming’s D.C. area committee, began publishing results. The Wildcats finished with 311 points to edge defending champion Sherwood (282.5). Churchill took third (273).
It was an emotional and unexpected title for several of the swimmers, including senior Celine Nugent, who anchored the Wildcats to a victory in the 200 freestyle relay in 1:36.85.
“When our coach [Jamie Grimes] told us we had a chance, we jumped on that chance,” said Nugent, a Georgia Tech commit. “It’s the best senior year anyone can wish for.”
On the boys’ side, defending champion Gonzaga was strong out of the gate to win the team title with 374 points. Churchill claimed second (324), and Georgetown Prep finished third (318).
The Eagles kicked off the meet by winning the 200-yard medley relay in 1:33.12, which was anchored by a strong freestyle leg from senior Ryan Windus, who later won the 50-free title in 20.65 seconds.
“I was fourth in the event last year, so that really motivated me to win,” Windus said. “I feel pretty good about my performance.”
Other standout performances included those by Georgetown Prep senior Matthew Hirschberger, a Stanford commit who swept the 200 free (1:38.31) and 500 free (4:27.85) — hitting automatic all-American times in both events.
Blair senior Madison Waechter, who will swim at Wisconsin, claimed the 200 free in 1:49.60 as the only girl to go under the 1:50 mark. She also won the 500 free in 4:51.28, an automatic all-American time.
Northwest senior Sydney Knapp, a Miami commit, picked up titles in both the 50 free (23.71) and 100 free (51.40).
In the diving competition earlier in the week, Quince Orchard senior Joseph Canova won the boys’ one-meter title with 506.25 points. Walter Johnson senior Patrick Collishaw was second (493.05). Seneca Valley junior Hannah Montau finished on top for the girls’ title (457.10), followed by Bethesda-Chevy Chase junior Madeline Pfaff (448.0).