With talent sprinkled throughout the lower ranks, the Notre Dame Prep swimming program should remain in good hands after the latest wave of outstanding seniors graduate in May with a diploma and three Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference titles in hand.
The Class of 2014 — Carrie Davison, Amanda Duckett, Mary Claire Hudak, Maija Adorian, Kendall Krumenacker, Summer Legambi, Haley McComas, Dani Potis and Emma Williams — should long be remembered for its winning ways and outstanding performances under coach Terri Byrd.
Now in her eighth year, Byrd has built a program that boasts depth, talent and dedication to excellence.
To that end, the Blazers completed yet another undefeated dual-meet season capped with team victories at the IAAM and East Coast Catholic team championships on successive weekends in late January.
Her swimmers, Byrd said, contribute more than textbook technique to NDP's triumphs.
"It goes beyond the pool," she said. "The girls are leaders to begin with. Then you add in their work ethic, which fosters setting and achieving goals."
As a group, the Blazers refuse to allow past accomplishments to cloud their desire to constantly improve.
"They're never complacent," Byrd added. "And they're not here for the social scene. They're here to work hard. They're well-rounded athletes."
Those athletes really went to work at the East Coast Catholics, rolling to a 425.5-333 win over runner-up Mount de Sales. The Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) was third with 213 points.
The Blazers finished first in the 400-yard freestyle relay (Potis, Krumenacker, juniors Katie McComas and Mary Kate Clancy) and 200 free relay (Potis, Krumenacker, McComas and sophomore Selah Peacock) while Potis took top honors in the 200 and 500 freestyles.
Clancy posted a blistering 55.71 to earn All-American consideration in the 100 butterfly and added to her big day with a win in the 200 individual medley.
Not to be outdone, Krumenacker claimed the 100 backstroke crown and Katie McComas earned the 50 free title.
All of those stars were keys to returning the IAAM A Conference banner to the Towson school's campus as well on Feb. 1 after shaking off last year's loss to host McDonogh in the final.
By not dwelling on its own shortcomings last year, NDP focused on more of a team effort to grab the crown back from the Eagles.
"They deserved (the 2013 championship)," said Towson University-bound Krumenacker, one of four Blazer senior captains with Haley McComas, Davison and Hudak. "They swam better than we did. For us to come back like we did this year is just an amazing feeling."
NDP (481 points) jumped ahead early and never let go of the top spot, using first-place performances from Krumenacker in the 50-yard freestyle and Clancy in the 100 butterfly to top Mount de Sales (381).
Krumenacker joined Potis, junior Kate McComas and sophomore Selah Peacock to take the 200 freestyle relay and she worked with Clancy, Potis and Kate McComas in setting a meet-record 3:41.74 in the 400 freestyle relay.
Still, Byrd said she was afraid to "count my chickens" (before they hatch) when asked when she felt the IAAM title was secured.
"All I kept hearing was that we were ahead by 40 points," she said. "And relays are worth 40 points, so anything could have happened."
Although the final (400) relay was won by only .11 of a second, the Blazers still had enough wiggle room to take the trophy back to Hampton.