By John Lohn
Feb. 24. ONE of the top scholastic programs in the United States for years, Germantown Academy (Pennsylvania) once again demonstrated its dominance over the weekend (Feb. 21-22), running away with the female championship at the 103rd Eastern Interscholastic Swimming Championships, held at La Salle University in Philadelphia.
The premier private-school competition in the nation, the Easterns event featured 768 competitors, including the elite swimmers from The Peddie School (New Jersey) and Mercersburg Academy (Pennsylvania), a pair of U.S. scholastic powers.
Over the years, Easterns has featured a number of Olympians, including Nelson Diebel, Dave Wharton, Maddy Crippen and Melvin Stewart.
"We're so elated to be the host school," said Dick Shoulberg, the legendary coach at Germantown Academy. "It's a fabulous environment for the kids. This is what swimming is all about. We're proud of this meet. I would say this meet has had more Olympians compete than any other high school meet in the United States."
Germantown Academy rolled to the female championship, accumulating an eye-popping 667.50 points. Mercersburg Academy finished second with 390 points while the Peddie School racked up 373.50 points for third place in the team standings.
Victorious in all three relays, Germantown also received five victories in individual events, including a double-dip in the distance freestyle events from Kirsten Jones. After going 1:52.17 in the 200 free, Jones added the 500 free championship with a clocking of 4:57.95.
Caitlin Regan (2:06.71) took the 200 individual medley for Germantown while Meredith Cocco (52.67) prevailed in the 100 freestyle.
In the 100 breast, the final individual event, the Patriots dropped an exclamation point on their triumph with a sweep of the top three places. Alicia Aemisegger, a freshman, took the breast title with a time of 1:04.98, followed by Regan in 1:05.07 and Keri McIlvain in 1:06.23. Aemisegger also swam the breast leg on the 200 medley relay, joining Jen Kopenitz (backstroke), Sarah Ladley (butterfly) and Jones (freestyle) for a time of 1:48.38.
In the 200 freestyle relay, Germantown touched first as Cocco, Regan, Aemisegger and Rachel Ahrenhold recorded a time of 1:37.19. The Patriots added the 400 freestyle relay crown with a 3:31.75 mark, thanks to Cocco, Sara Coenen, Jones and Ahrenhold. Mercersburg actually touched first in the 400 free relay (3:31.49), but was disqualified for a premature celebratory leap into the pool.
While Jones took the 200 and 500 free championships, Lisa Shelps also emerged as a double-winner, winning the 50 free in 23.97 and the 100 backstroke in 58.34. The other individual championship was claimed by Mercersburg's Kailey Morris in the 100 butterfly (56.81).
In the male competition, the Peddie School claimed the team title with a score of 407 points, a total that outdistanced Germantown Academy (370), La Salle College High School (350) and Mercersburg Academy (284).
Individually, though, the meet belonged to Bill Marcum, a sprint freestyler at Cardinal O'Hara, located just outside Philadelphia. After winning the 50 freestyle Friday night in a time of 21.26, Marcum repeated his 2002 championship in the 100 freestyle with a time of 46.20. The effort earned Marcum the honor of Most Outstanding Swimmer.
The Peddie School was dominant en route to victory in the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay. Behind the foursome of Kyle Voorheis, Seok Jun Lee, Drew Lewis and Roy-Allan Burch, Peddie went 1:35.13 in the medley. Peddie, with Voorheis, Scott Mullervy, Lee and Andrew Foss, also won the 400 free relay, posting a time of 3:10.18.
In the 200 freestyle relay, Germantown Academy took top honors with Steve Ko, Sean Connors-McBride, Brad Test and Devon Carr touching the wall in 1:26.52.
Alex Holdridge of Suffield Academy (Connecticut) won the 200 freestyle in 1:41.70 while the 200 I.M. title went to Mullervy (1:52.85). Voorheis claimed gold in the 100 butterfly (51.15) and Pat Healy (La Salle) won the 500 free with an effort of 4:32.78. Meanwhile, Justin Smith of Mercersburg won the 100 backstroke in 51.32 and Lee won the 100 breaststroke in 57.57.