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Strong current for Freedom's Stewart

Connor Stewart competes in the 100-meter individual medley at Freedom Swim Club in Eldersburg Saturday, June 27.
Connor Stewart competes in the 100-meter individual medley at Freedom Swim Club in Eldersburg Saturday, June 27. (DAVE MUNCHSTAFF PHOTO, Carroll County Times)

There's a board at Freedom Swim Club that lists the swim team's all-time records, many of which have stood for the better part of three decades.

Until Connor Stewart decided he wanted to take a crack at taking down as many as he could.

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"Last year I realized I was only a second off on most of them," said Stewart, who turned 13 two weeks ago but still competes in the 11-12 age group. "And then I realized, at the beginning of this year, I realized how much better I was than last year. I just went after them the first week, and got them."

Stewart and his Freedom teammates hosted Central Maryland Swim League foe Taylor Village on June 20. The Dolphins lost by two points, 238-236, but Stewart had himself quite an opener. The Eldersburg native set records in the 100-meter individual medley (1 minute, 12.09 seconds), the 50 freestyle (29.09), the 50 butterfly (33.78), and the 50 breaststroke (38.28).

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His medals in those four races carry a little extra weight too — three of them were set in 1986, and the fourth in 1978.

Greg Sherwood held the three records from 29 years ago. His IM time was 1:15.05, his freestyle was 29.06, and his fly in 33.81. Doug Mowery owned the 37-year-old breaststroke record at 38.8.

Stewart got himself into better shape for the summer by completing his third year of year-round swimming. He swims at McDonogh School for Eagle Swim Team when he's not doing so for Freedom — Stewart is part of two record-holding relay teams, according to the Eagle Swim Team's website — and the extra work seems to be paying off.

"He has always had a knack for it," said Freedom coach Emily Nava. "I'm not surprised that be beat all the records ... that's who he is, he's a swimmer. It was impressive that he beat them in every stroke that he swam."

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His club team's next meet is set for next weekend at Meadowbrook, former home of Olympic great and Baltimore legend Michael Phelps. Stewart said going to meets in a more competitive setting brings out the best in every swimmer.

"At some of those meets, some of those Olympians show up to see their old team swim," he said. "So I like to make myself go faster so I look better if they're watching."

Nava credits Stewart for attending as many Dolphins practices as he can despite being involved in club swimming (EST's long course season is underway). Having a quality swimmer in the pool at Freedom goes a long way toward giving younger or inexperienced teammates an added confident boost, Nava said.

"He still comes to the summer swim practices," Nava said. "He understands the sport and understands what it takes to succeed."

And Stewart, like many top-notch swimmers, likens the summer to some sought after down time.

"Usually I take a night off when I think I've neared that night off after a while," Stewart said.

Freedom hosted Crofton Country Club, another CMSL Division V foe, last Saturday, and Stewart took first in the IM, freestyle and backstroke, and helped the Dolphins' IM relay also win.

He's in his sixth year at Freedom, an eighth-grader-to-be at Oklahoma Road Middle School, and a future student at Liberty High. Stewart knows there won't be a swim team to join once he gets to high school, but his days won't be devoid of his favorite sport.

And perhaps a new set of records to go after next summer, when Stewart joins the 13-14 age group.

"I like the feeling of ... making my mark here," Stewart said, "making sure no one forgets me here."

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