RICHMOND – Douglas Freeman made it look easy.
The Rebels dominated the field in Region 5B swim championships Friday at Collegiate School Aquatic Center, swamping the competition in sweeping the boys and girls team championships.
Their closest margin of victory was in the girls competition by a mere 95 points, 406-311 over second place Mills Godwin. Deep Run was in a distant third place with 272 points, followed by J.R. Tucker with 252 points and Atlee with 221.
In the boys race, Douglas Freeman nearly doubled the score of second-place J.R. Tucker 446-231. Mills Godwin was third with 206 points, followed by Matoaca (182 points) and Atlee (180).
Douglas Freeman’s success – in its three years of VHSL competition – is the result of a tremendous feeder system driven by year-round and seasonal club swimmers.
“All four years I’ve been here we’ve had a great team,” said Freeman senior Reid Hutcherson, who won the boys 200-yard freestyle and who anchored the Rebels’ winning 200- and 400-freestyle relay teams. “Meets like this, everybody stepped up. It was a lot of fun to be a part of that. [Today] everybody swam well.”
For junior Lizzie Danforth, who has established herself as one of the dominant girl swimmers in the region – and maintained that reputation with wins in the girls 200 freestyle and who was part of the Rebels’ winning 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay teams – the high school season is a nice change of pace.
“I always feel like high school swimming is one of my favorite parts of the year,” Danforth said. “We always get to show off our talents and get to swim things that we wouldn’t normally get to swim for our club team.”
The high school season offers Hutcherson a new view of competition.
“Getting to swim against all my friends that I swim with on the same club, and getting to compete against them in high school gives a whole new kind of perspective on it,” he said.
There were three multiple winners in individual events. Mills Godwin’s Zoe Dixon was the only individual multiple winner among the girls with wins in the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke.
The Raider girls were led by their 200 medley relay team of Maggie Ivie, Emily Devlin, Alison Harvey and Meredith Boggess, which finished third. Harvey, who also finished fourth in the 100 butterfly and as part of the fourth-place 200 freestyle relay team, amassed 27 points for Atlee, followed by 26 apiece for Devlin and Ivie and 22 for Boggess.
On the boys side, J.R. Tucker’s Christopher Dalla Valle won the 100 butterfly and 500 freestyle. Lee-Davis’ Brendan Farrar won the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke.
For Farrar, his success was far from guaranteed as the week preceding the meet had been difficult.
“I was feeling a little tired today. Practice has been pretty hard this week,” he said. “But we had been gearing up for championship season. I’m really happy with my times given how sore I feel. It makes me confident in championship season.”
Logan Amatruda led the Atlee boys with third-place finishes in the 200 freestyle and 200 freestyle relay (with Russell Odor, Ashton Herndon and Nathan Stephens). In all, he earned 29 points for the Raiders.
Championship season for the high school swimmers lasts one more week. The VHSL Group 5A state championships will be held Saturday at the George Mason University Aquatic Center in Fairfax, Virginia.
Dave Lawrence can be reached at email@example.com.