When the Pallotti swimming team practiced at Fairland Sports and Aquatics Center, coach Bill Bayly usually drove his swimmers in a bus for the four-mile trip. Some swimmers, though, chose not to wait for the bus.
"A lot of the seniors just drove themselves and would pick some other kids up," Bayly said. "By the time I would get there, they had already had begun practicing. They wanted to start early This group of seniors was very mature. They took care of other kids and made my job easier. In a lot of ways, I guess you could say it was my dream team."
Seniors crowded the roster. Nineteen of the 33-team members were in that class.
Bayly said the team was so close-knit, it felt like a family.
"It will be a tough group to replace," he said. "In swimming, you have a lot of individual performers, in a lot of different leagues. But it high school, it really is a team sport and to have all these and strategizing for meets for the whole team to win. It was pretty amazing."
It didn't hurt that the Pallotti girls captured the first swimming championship in school history. The Panthers won the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference title Feb. 1 at McDonogh School in Owings Mills.
Pallotti finished with 389 points to place ahead of runner-up Seton Keough (329.50) and St. Timothy's (299).
"We took a look at how we could score the total maximum amount of points," Bayly said. "It wasn't about individuals winning races. We wanted to figure out a way to get people in specialty events and own an event. If you get ninth or 10th place, that's points. Every swimmer bought into that, and I think that was the difference."
Pallotti junior Kristin Toth said Bayly, a second-year coach, deserves credit for the Panthers' title.
"He has been phenomenal," she said. "He really has instilled a lot of confidence in us and that has brought the team together."
Toth was Pallotti's top performer. She won the 200-yard (2:06.03) and 50 (26.44) freestyle.
The 5-foot-10 Toth, who swims year-round for Machine Aquatics in College Park, also won a IAAM championship in the 500 free style as a sophomore.
"She is on another level — an A Conference level," Bayly said. "I definitely expect her to swim in college. She is one of those swimmers whose heart is all in it. She just trains all year-round. She trains every day of the week. Sometimes, twice a day."
Toth also swam a leg on the winning 400 free relay team that included Regina Pruden, Jessie Harkcom and Kenni Patrick while the 200 free relay of Toth, Alexandra Jones, Harkcom and Katie Lamirande and the 200 medley relay team of Pruden, Jones, Patrick and Lamirande finished third.
Pallotti's other top individual performances came from Harkom (2nd, 200 free, 2nd 100 free), Pruden (3rd, 100 back, 2nd, 100 free) and Patrick (3rd, 200 individual medley, 3rd, 100 fly).
Jones (4th, 100 breaststroke), (6th, 50 free), Francesca Giuliani (14th, 500 free), Victoria Ridgway (12th, 500 free, 11th 100 back), Ainae Nielsen (11th, 100 fly, 9th, 200 IM), Domonique Bobian (8th, 100 fly, 10th, 200 IM), Lamirande (6th, 50 free, 4th, 100 free), Ashley Martindale (6th, 100 breast, 13th, 100 free), Bridget Bagileo (7th, 100 breast, 10th, 200 free) and Anastasia Barrett (9th, 100 back).