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Loyola Blakefield wins 20th MIAA A swimming championship in 21 years

There are few things in life that are ever assured. Evidently, winning the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference swimming title is one that almost always is.

Loyola Blakefield won six of 11 events to outlast second-place McDonogh and win the title. It was Loyola's 20th win in the past 21 years, with the only blemish coming in 2012, when McDonogh won.

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"This is a measure of all the hard work the boys put in, and how passionate they are about swimming," Loyola coach Matt McDonough said. "We lost two senior captains last year, and I didn't know how good we'd be, but they really did some special things this year and surprised me."

McDonough said he saw the Dons develop into a more complete team as the season went on.

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"It took a while to get to know who we were, but you could see it coming together. It all worked out in the end," McDonough said.

One of the best races of the night was the 200-yard individual medley, where Calvert Hall's Josh Walker won with a time of 1:52.15. For Walker, who broke the school record by .01 of a second Friday night in the preliminaries, the victory bested that time by almost two full seconds. The time also makes him eligible for All-American consideration.

"I finished second in this event last year, so that pushed me to work even harder," Walker said. "The record I broke [Friday] had stood since 1993, so I really pushed myself. I feel great since I worked so hard to get here."

In the biggest upset of the night, Archbishop Spalding's Daniel Johnson turned on the jets in the final 50 yards to pass Walker and win the 100 freestyle with a time of 47.55 seconds. It was a personal best for the senior, as well as a school record. The win was also the first for Spalding at an A Conference meet.

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"I was hoping they wouldn't notice me swimming in one of the outside lanes, but it was all mental," Johnson said. "I just got the lead and let the momentum carry me. I'm just so happy I get to end my swimming career this way."

Loyola's Matt Clark surpassed his preliminary time by two full seconds to win the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:33.74, which makes him eligible for All-American consideration in the event.

Clark, a sophomore, also won the 200 freestyle earlier in the meet, with a time of 1:40.71. Clark, who finished fifth in the 200 last year, said he felt like his hard work had finally paid off.

"I just trusted my training," Clark said. "It went about as I expected. I just didn't want to let my team down."

The Dons got another winner in the 100 backstroke, where Will Pelton swam a time of 50.68 seconds. In the 100 breaststroke, McDonogh's Derek Nguyen finished in 56.73 seconds to win his race by almost two seconds. Both times make Pelton and Nguyen worthy of All-American consideration.

Loyola won two of the three relays in the final — the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:36.16 and the 400 freestyle with a time of 3:08.22. McDonogh won the other relay, the 200 freestyle relay, with a time of 1:27.25.

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