The summer of 2014 will go down as the season of records for the Northern Virginia Swim League. A total of 43 league records were shattered this summer, far outpacing the previous high of 30 that were broken in 2010.
It was only fitting that all the history-making continue at Saturday’s NVSL Individual All-Star meet, the final event of the season. Even without some of the league’s biggest names — Andrew Seliskar, Janet Hu, Megan Byrnes, Isabella Rongione, Cassidy Bayer and James Murphy were in Irvine, Calif., for U.S. Junior Nationals — the swimmers at Annandale Swim and Tennis Club managed to topple seven more NVSL records.
From Highlands’ Courtney Watts taking down a five-year-old NVSL record in the girls 8-and-under 25-meter backstroke (17.70 seconds) to Hamlet’s Johnny Bradshaw laying claim to, well, all of the records in the boys 9-10 age group, Saturday’s action was the perfect capper to a summer full of surprises.
Heading into Saturday’s meet, Johnny Bradshaw held every NVSL 9-10 boys individual record except one: the 25-meter butterfly. The Hamlet Green Feet speedster broke that record last month, only to see Fairfax’s Justin Singletary edge his mark by 0.05 seconds the following week.
Bradshaw and Singletary met in a showdown at All-Stars on Saturday, and it was Bradshaw who came out on top, flying to the wall in a league-record 14.36 seconds to edge Singletary by 0.27 seconds. The 10-year-old Hamlet standout skipped several events to make the 25 fly his first swim of the day, ensuring he was fresh enough to lock down that one record missing from his mantle.
Now Bradshaw stands as the only NVSL swimmer to hold all five records in his age group at the same time. It was a possibility that dawned on him when he became the first 10-and-under in league history to post a sub-30-second swim in the 50 freestyle earlier this summer.
“I got the first one, so I was sort of thinking maybe I could try to get them all,” he said.
Bradshaw’s second and final swim of the day saw him break his own 100-meter individual medley record with a time of 1 minute 12.84 seconds, eight seconds faster than the runner-up finisher.
Paul O’Hara’s record-breaking swim in last year’s All-Star meet made him the first NVSL swimmer to go below 23 seconds in the 50-meter freestyle. In the final summer league meet of his career Saturday, he took it even lower.
O’Hara shaved his record at Divisionals last week with a time of 22.94, a mere 0.04 seconds faster than last summer’s mark. On Saturday the Hollin Meadows 18-year-old exploded to a time of 22.60 seconds.
“This is my favorite meet of the year,” said O’Hara, who tapered and shaved for Saturday’s meet. “I had mono earlier in the summer, so I wasn’t really able to train in June, so I knew I probably wouldn’t be in really good shape for one of my long-course meets. So I decided to make this my last meet of the summer.”
Coming off his freshman swim season at Harvard, O’Hara credited strength gains from his weigh-training regiment for his faster pace on Saturday. But even though he finished a full two seconds clear of runner-up, O’Hara knew that no record is safe for very long these days.
“I’m sure [someone will break my record],” he said. “If you look at the way the times are dropping, it’s kind of ridiculous. So I’m sure it won’t last too long, but I hope it will at least last a couple years so I can say that I had it for a respectable amount of time.”
Looking at him before he plunged into the water, you could tell Max Cruz was pretty pumped. The 12-year-old Holmes Run Acres swimmer pumped his chest and shook himself up before offering his ritual headband swipe and point to the sky to acknowledge his former coach, Clayton Joyner, who passed away in May.
“I wasn’t thinking really,” Cruz said. “My adrenaline was pumping and I was ready to race.”
Cruz’s excitement only rose after the 50-meter butterfly race, as he roared in celebration for his time of 28.53 seconds. His performance edged the NVSL record of 28.81 set by Phillip Hu in 2007.
“That was an amazing time for me,” Cruz said. “I knew I could make it; I just had to push on that last half. I went out there and just did my best, and my outcome was good.”
Cruz isn’t the only one to shatter a Phillip Hu 11-12 record this summer. The Fairfax Frogs’ Peter Makin surprised everyone by breaking the Mosby Woods swimmer’s league mark in the 100 individual medley at Divisionals last week. His time of 1:06.53 was nearly three seconds faster than his entry time of 1:09.43, and it edged Hu’s 2007 time of 1:08.14.
Makin went even lower on Saturday, touching the wall in a blistering 1:05.92 seconds to come out a full three seconds ahead of Chesterbrook’s Adi Kambhampaty. Makin also edged Cruz by 0.13 seconds to win the 50 freestyle in 26.69.
Tommy Hallock grabbed the first NVSL record of the day, swimming the boys 13-14 50 free in 24.03 seconds to break Cabell Perrot’s 2007 mark of 24.24. The Fox Mill Woods swimmer also won the 50 backstroke in 28.4 seconds.
“I just kept my head still and powered through at the end,” Hallock said after his freestyle race. “I just thought of [American freestyle record-holder] Nathan Adrian, how at the end of his 100-frees he just puts his head down and powers through. I just thought of that at the end of the race.”
Chesterbrook’s Sam Gollob got the best of Virginia Run’s Leo Wang in the boys 13-14 50 breast, getting a bit of revenge for the previous week’s proceedings. Gollob set the league record in that category earlier this summer, then broke his own record at the Division 1 meet with a time of 30.96 seconds. A few hours later he learned that he’d been one-upped, as Wang swam the 50 breast in 30.90 at the Division 6 meet that day.
On Saturday the two went head-to-head, with Gollob coming away with a time of 31.12 to edge Wang by 0.61 seconds.
“I had a great race,” Gollob said. “I think there’s always stuff I can improve on, always ways I can make the race faster, but I was really happy with it. It’s been a long summer, and it was a good race to end it, so I was pretty pumped.”