Loyola holds every swimming championship since the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association was formed in 1994. But its 2005 title team had nine seniors, five of whom were All-Americans.
After McDonogh beat the Dons for the first time in 38 years earlier in the year, there were whispers around the Loyola pool that this could be the year the Eagles were going to knock them off the throne.
Yesterday, however, the Dons, the host team, dug deep and nudged McDonogh, 318-314, to capture their 12th straight crown.
Loyola coach Keith Schertle said the latest title might be even sweeter than the previous ones. Loyola won the meet despite not having one first-place finish, while McDonogh won five of the 11 events.
"Honestly, our kids expected McDonogh to win because they are an extremely talented team," Schertle said. "I talked to our kids over and over about how much we lost [from last season], and how much they lost. I would have been really, really happy with a tie."
The Dons had five second-place finishes and two thirds. The 100-yard breaststroke, where the Dons racked up 41 points and the Eagles got just 26, might have been the difference.
Dons senior Chris Soper, who finished third in the 100 freestyle, said the team had to work extra hard this year, with eight practices a week, swimming at least four hours each day, to defend the title.
"It was much harder this year, but we really had to pull together as a team," Soper said. "There was a lot of effort put into this win."
McDonogh's 200 freestyle relay team of Giles Smith, Nathan Mormann, Colby Loetz and Jordan Cobb finished with a time of 1:28.44, breaking a 4-year-old MIAA record set by Loyola. Mormann also had a first-place finish in the 50 freestyle, Mike Polino captured the 100 breaststroke and the Eagles' 400 freestyle relay team won.
McDonogh coach Scott Ward said the Eagles will still have to spend more time in the pool in order to knock off the Dons next year.
"They beat us fair and square, but it was exciting all the way through," said Ward, who also coaches McDonogh's girls team, which did win a title this year. "We probably could have swam a little bit better all the way through, but I am still proud of the guys. We had a great meet."
Connor Wills of fifth-place Gilman broke an MIAA record in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:53.44. Wills also won the 100 backstroke.
B Conference -- St. Mary's captured six of 11 events to finish with 344 points, 29 points ahead of second-place Severn. Danny Quinn won the 100 butterfly and the 50 freestyle, and Tommy Shea won the 100 breaststroke and the 200 individual medley for the Saints.