Previously unbeaten Notre Dame Prep had an excellent performance in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship meet Saturday afternoon in Owings Mills.
Unfortunately for the Blazers, host McDonogh was even better in claiming its first championship since 2010 and ninth overall.
The turning point for the Eagles came in the 100-yard breaststroke just after Notre Dame Prep had taken the lead. The Eagles earned 50 points while the Blazers managed just 16 in the pivotal event.
McDonogh finished with 425 overall points. Two-time defending champ Notre Dame Prep (407) was second, followed by Archbishop Spalding (331), Mount de Sales (317) and Bryn Mawr (239).
Severn edged St. Paul's School for Girls in the B Conference and Seton Keough won the C Conference.
Everything came together for McDonogh, which was beaten in dual meets by Notre Dame Prep and Mount de Sales during the season and had suffered other losses as well.
"We were healthy, and our younger swimmers really came through for us today," said McDonogh coach Scott Ward.
So did some of the more veteran members of the squad, such as senior Juliann Rossi, who dropped three seconds off her previous best time in the breaststroke.
"My teammates told me if I came in eighth, we would win the meet," said Rossi, who finished sixth. "It was my last meet ever, and I didn't want to leave anything behind."
Ward said Rossi's effort was a "snapshot" of how well the team performed.
"Across the board, in every event, we swam our best today," he said.
Seniors Sydney Kligys and Lauren Egan, junior Geordie Enoch and freshman Isabella McElrath helped the Eagles to a quick start by capturing the 200 medley relay in a league-record 1:47.90.
When Bryn Mawr junior Korby Simpson won the 200-yard freestyle and McDonogh freshman Amanda Chabbot was second, the Blazers were denied an individual or team champion — a trend that would continue until junior Dani Potis took the 100 freestyle and then senior Nana Salvatori, juniors Kendall Krumenacker and Potis and sophomore Katie McComas touched in first in the 200 free relay.
Even then, seniors Sydney Kligys, Egan, Enoch and freshman Emily Wilhelm kept the Eagles within striking distance by finishing second.
The Blazers maintained a six-point lead when Krumenacker posted a 57.45 in the 100 backstroke, edging Simpson (58.27).
The lead vanished in the 100 breaststroke, though, after McDonogh's Enoch and Egan finished first and second, respectively, in the conference and Rossi was sixth.
St. Paul's School for Girls senior Jordan Surhoff finished first overall (1:03.26) in that event and in the 100 butterfly, setting a meet record in the process. Other B Conference first-place finishers for the Gators were Kathy Hirsch (200 free), Brooke Kasoff (200 IM) and Johanna Hock (100 free).
Besides Simpson, Georgie Crompton (100 fly) was the other Bryn Mawr swimmer to prevail in an individual event.
"We swam really well," said Notre Dame Prep sophomore Mary Kate Clancy, who tied teammate Potis by producing 40 points for the champion Blazers in the National Catholic championships last weekend. "But McDonogh swam great."
"McDonogh out-swam us today," Notre Dame Prep coach Terri Byrd said. "They had a great meet and so did we. They were just a little bit better."