HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Greenwyche Pool slipped by Jones Valley for the overall team title at the 52nd Rocket City Swim League City Meet at the Huntsville Aquatic Center Sunday.
The Gators trailed the Blue Wave by 14 points after the first day, before storming back to victory by 17.5 points.
“It seems like whenever we have a big meet, we sort of turn it on in the end,” said Greenwyche Head Coach Matthew Brown. “I want to thank the kids. This has been the best experience of my life.”
Brown graduated in 2016 from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry. He is a Huntsville High School graduate and swam four years for the Crimson Panthers. He competed 10 seasons in the RCSL. This is his fourth year as head coach. He also assisted the Gators for three additional seasons.
“Without a doubt, this is the best team I’ve ever had,” said Brown, who also led the Gators to the city team title in 2015. “Everyone wants to win so much for their team members. The younger kids look up to the older ones and the older ones want the young ones to have fun, so they want to win for them. I want to win it because they want to win it and they want to win it because I do.”
The weekend meet featured 1,671 athletes from 18 pools all around Madison County. The Piedmont Piranhas were the defending champions of the swim portion. Greenwyche also won the team crown in the diving competition on Friday at the Richard Showers Center.
There were four new city swim meet records set, two by Blossomwood’s 14-year-old Rebeka Hamilton. The ninth-grader at Westminster Christian Academy clocked a 24.24 in the girls 50-yard freestyle and a time of 27.89 in 50-yard age 13-14 backstroke.
“On the backstroke, I knew I was close to the 40-year old record (28.03 in 1977 by Jan King of Jones Valley) in the prelims and I was just hoping to go faster,” Hamilton said. “Our coach, Susan Swing is really good. She does great with the younger kids and works very hard to help us all improve.”
Riley Groves of Redstone Arsenal clocked a 28.19 in the age 11-2 boys 50 backstroke to eclipse a 28.69 set by Steven Griffin of Greenwyche in 2004.
“It felt nice and smooth the entire way and my under-waters were good in that race,” said Groves, who is homeschooled and going into the seventh grade. “Our coach, Arthur Fortin, is so good on working on technique. He’s a fun coach, who gets to know you and really gives outstanding advice.”
The Mountain Springs 15-17 mixed 200 freestyle relay set a new city standard of 1:34.95. The relay consisted of Sam Johnston, Devin Campbell, Regan Weakley and Evan Vela.
Greenwyche scored 1,624 team points. Jones Valley had 1,607.5, followed by Blossomwood, 1,357.5, Sherwood, 1,071, Sharon Johnston, 992 and Mountain Springs, 978. The first six teams in points will make up the top portion of the 18-team league next season.
Mt. Carmel finished seventh with 894.5 points, followed by Byrd Spring, 833, Monte Sano, 828.5, Piedmont, 765.5, Hampton Cove, 720 and Lily Flagg 711.5 to round out the “B” League for next season.
Camelot, 547, Whitesburg, 487, Redstone, 401.5, YMCA, 203.5, Valley Hill, 104 and Chapman, 23 will comprise the “C” League.
Blakely Beddingfield of Hampton Cove was high point in the girls 6-and-under division. Fox Holmes of Greenwyche was boys high point. Story Mackey of Blossomwood was high point in the age 8-and-under girls, Isaac Whetstone of Sherwood for the boys. Claire Quadrini of Monte Sano was high in the girls 9-10, while Judd Lunsford (Greenwyche) and Luke Bedsole (Jones Valley) tied for boys honors.
Madelyn Yates of Blossomwood was high point for the 11-12 girls, Groves for the boys. Hamilton was 13-14 girls winner, Stephen O’Neal of Greenwyche was high point on the boys side. Weakley was 15-17 winner and Caleb Chance of Piedmont was high point for the boys.
Blossomewood won the 6-and-under girls high point team award, Jones Valley won the boys side. Blossomwood collected the 8-and-under girls title and Sherwood won on the boys title. Greenwyche was first in the girls and boys 9-10 division.
Blossomwood was high in the girls 11-12 grouping, Greenwyche won the boys title. Blossomwood was high point in the girls and Jones Valley took the boys 13-14 division. Mountain Springs was first in age 15-17 girls, Mt. Carmel won the boys crown.
City Meet swimmers competed in four basic strokes: freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke. Three swimmers per team were allowed to compete for points in each event and no swimmer competed in more than three individual events. Top swimmers also competed for points in team medley, mixed freestyle and freestyle relays.
Swimmers who don’t make the top three in any of the four events competed in the freestyle exhibition event. There was also a special needs event, along with coaches and parents relays.
Teams competed in five dual meets during the regular season. Groves of Redstone set a new dual meet 50-yard backstroke record in age 11-12 boys division with a time of 28.40. O’Neil of Greenwyche recorded a new 50-yard boys age 13-14 butterfly standard with a 25.64. The Sherwood age 15-17 mixed relay team of Kaden Mackey, Mackenzie Holtcamp, Elise Rinehart and Caleb Williams set a 200-meter record of 1:51.84.
Greenwyche was the A League dual meet champion. Sherwood won the B League title and Whitesburg was first in C League.
The Chapman swim team, founded in 1973, sponsored a group of children from the summer program at Oakwood College this season.
“We used the Chapman team to mentor the Oakwood team so that at some point the Oakwood team can be a standalone team in the Rocket City Swim League,” said RCSL President Justin Olander. “They combined and swam together. Terry Hamilton is leading the effort with Oakwood and working with Coach Jeff White of Chapman. We already have the Sea Dragons, which is part of the Showers Center, working with Mt. Carmel. This was their second year in a five-year plan to get the Sea Dragons as a standalone program in the RCSL.”
Hamilton is an assistant professor and Aquatics Director at Oakwood College. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in business from the college in 1983 and a health and physical science degree from Alabama A&M in 2000. Besides serving as the year-round Aquatic Director at Oakwood, he has taught a youth summer swim program for more than 20 years.
“The kids coming through our program would get to a certain level and then we wouldn’t have anything for them to go further,” Hamilton said. “I got in touch with (City Meet Director and RCSL 1st Vice President) Chris Chance of the Rocket City Swim League and he said they would be excited to have another club join them. We want them to continue to improve, have fun, enjoy the time in the water and learn about sportsmanship.”
Chapman Coach Jeff White says he gained some new young swimmers this season and along with the Oakwood children, the team has grown to 31 swimmers. The team was founded in 1973.
“Terry (Hamilton) and I work well together,” said White, who just completed his third season as head coach. “The kids have been great and the parents have been wonderful and supportive. Having the swimmers from Oakwood helped us fill in some of the holes and made the team swim faster.”
White, a professional photographer, is a 1989 graduate from Huntsville High School. He swam for the Crimson Panthers and also for 11 seasons in the RCSL.
City Meet was the initial meet at the new Competition Pool. The HAC complex now features three pools. The $22.4 million renovation project ends when the original Legacy Pool, built in 1974, is renovated in time to help host the long course Southeastern Championships, July 20-23.
The two 50-meter Legacy and Competition Olympic pools will be utilized for Southeasterns with the Instructional/Therapy pool used for warm-ups and cool-downs.