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Swimming: Mahoney displays 'all-around' performance at Straehle

Swimming: Mahoney displays 'all-around' performance at Straehle
Westminster's Ryan Mahoney competes in the Boys Under 8 25-Meter Backstroke during the Straehle Invitational swim meet at Four Seasons sports complex near Hampstead Wednesday, July 25, 2018. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Among the thousands in attendance for the annual Straehle Invitational, Ryan Mahoney was one of the loudest.

It spoke volumes for someone who’s just 8 years old, literally.

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Ryan had just finished his leg of the Mixed 8 & Under 100 Freestyle Relay. While most swimmers stopped to catch their breath, Ryan immediately got out of the water and relentlessly cheered on his teammates as they finished off the race.

Westminster’s relay team placed 15th of 17 teams in the event but you wouldn’t have thought that based on Ryan’s energy.

“Unbelievable teammate,” said Westminster Stingrays coach Brad Brooks. “[Ryan is] your all-around package in that he’s got the speed, he’s got the sportsmanship … he comes up and he wants to get better. He doesn’t think he’s the best swimmer in the pool, he says, ‘How can I get better so next year I’m even keeping up with the nine and ten-year-olds.’”

Ryan said he started swimming when he was just 5 years old. His parents talked him into it and he has since spent time on the Stingrays swim team.

“I tried it for the first year,” Ryan said. “I wasn’t so good but I improved a lot.”

Westminster's Ryan Mahoney competes in the Boys 8 and Under 25-Meter Backstroke during the Straehle Invitational swim meet at Four Seasons sports complex near Hampstead Wednesday, July 25, 2018.
Westminster's Ryan Mahoney competes in the Boys 8 and Under 25-Meter Backstroke during the Straehle Invitational swim meet at Four Seasons sports complex near Hampstead Wednesday, July 25, 2018. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

In his second year competing in the Straehle, Ryan was one of the top swimmers among the Carroll County participants. He earned three first-place victories in the 25-meter butterfly (17.95), 25 back (20.44) and 25 free (16.28).

Ryan was extremely excited to have done so well in one of Maryland’s most prestigious swim meets, and he described his performance as “really good.”

“I’ve never gotten Straehle medals so this is my first time so I’m proud of myself,” Ryan said.

Brooks said Ryan takes on an extensive training regimen, swimming for an hour and a half during every morning practice. The coaches will place him with the 11 and 12-year-old swimmers with the expectation that he’ll keep up.

“He’s so mature for his age,” Brooks said. “For somebody who’s 8, he swims our older kids’ practice. He comes, he’s prepared, he wants advice on technical stuff. It’s kind of like he’s 8 but you think he’s 14.”

Ryan has been no stranger to winning this summer. One week prior, he tallied three victories at the Carroll County Invitational and broke a 22-year-old county record with a 18.26-second finish in his favorite event, the 25 butterfly.

“I stretched out my arms to get longer,” he said. “That’s probably how I won.”

When Mahoney takes the platform for his races, Brooks and the Stingrays’ coaching staff are more than confident knowing the results he’s going to produce.

“He’s consistently a guy I can count on,” Brooks said. “I put him in when I’m writing lineups and I’m like, ‘alright I’ve got three wins and 15 points.’”

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While he’s still competing in the 8-and-under division, Ryan has performed as one of Westminster’s top swimmers, something that bodes well for the youngster moving forward.

“The way he carries himself in the pool and the way he races so hard … I feel lucky to coach him,” Brooks said. He’s an extremely coachable athlete.”

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