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Montgomery County teams sweep state swimming championships

The Maryland swimming community welcomed Montgomery County schools to their first state Class 4A-3A championships on Saturday. The new teams proved to be up to the task, sweeping all 22 of the events. The newcomers also set 4A-3A state championship records in 16 events.

The meet's top individual finisher was Walter Johnson's Garrett Powell. The senior won the 500 freestyle (4 minutes, 27.83 seconds), the 100 backstroke (51.79) and the anchor leg of the 400 freestyle relay (3:12.25). All three times were state 4A-3A meet records.

Among local teams, Severna Park, which finished 10th, was the leading boys team and 10th-place Broadneck was the leader among the girls.

No swimmers from the Baltimore area took a first-place medal, though Michael Seaburg of South River managed second place in the 100 breaststroke after being out-touched at the line by Austin Dickey of Wootton High. Dickey's time was 57.77 (another record), while Seaburg finished in 57.89. Severna Park's Kevin Huntley (200 freestyle, 1:46.12) and Seaburg (200 individual medley, 1:58.64) had third-place finishes. Among the girls, Annapolis' Taylor Gill took third in the 200 IM (2:10.88) and South River's Lauren Levy finished third in the 500 freestyle (5:07.08).

The entry of the Montgomery County schools was not without controversy. Several local coaches from Anne Arundel County were very vocal in their opposition to including them because the practice rules for the Montgomery County schools differ from the rules in other counties. Montgomery rules allow swimmers who normally swim for club teams to participate.

Nevertheless, Seaburg was pleased with his effort in the 100 breaststroke, even against the higher level of competition.

"I was looking forward to that race for about two weeks, and I was both mentally and physically prepared for it," Seaburg said. "I thought I swam a good race, but he just [out-]touched me at the line. That happens in swimming."

Broadneck coach Colleen Winans was happy with her team's performance, especially after all the scrutiny it has been under in the past week because of a rules violation for a swimmer's having shaved on the day of the county championship meet.

"I thought we came back from the adversity well," Winans said. "The teams we were swimming against were very good, and I think we can hold our heads high. We had some personal best times, and I've got some great kids on the team."

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