CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, November 4. TWO of the best age-group teams in the United States gathered last weekend for a two-day dual meet that showed off their top-end talent, as well as the depth of their squads.
Atlanta’s Dynamo Swim Club traveled to Charlotte to race SwimMAC Carolina in a 32-event schedule. Though the 14-and-under meet was not scored, the senior meet provided some exciting races for crucial points that were more important than any of the times registered on the scoreboard. Dynamo, the reigning long course junior national combined champions, lost the meet by 100 points to host SwimMAC, the reigning short course junior national combined champions. With a score of 1106-1006, SwimMAC took the combined team title, but was unable to win the men’s meet. With a bevy of stars on the men’s roster that won all but one event, Dynamo won the men’s title with a score of 625-431. SwimMAC won the women’s scoring, 675-381, using a squad of swimmers that got the crucial runner-up points to outscore Dynamo.
Saturday featured four wins for Dynamo’s Kylie Stewart. The Georgia commit showed her range by winning the 400 IM (4:25.53), 200 fly (2:01.96), 100 free (51.33) and 500 free (4:55.67). The 100 free was a close one, with three SwimMAC athletes just a couple of tenths behind Stewart.
Gunnar Bentz and Jay Litherland, who will both be stalwarts next fall at Georgia as well, had some very close battles throughout the weekend. On the first day, Bentz got to the wall first by slim margins in the 400 IM and 200 breast. Bentz won the 400 IM with a 3:58.47 over Jay Litherland’s 3:58.66, and took the 200 breast in 2:07.44 to Jay’s 2:07.47. The two each added another victory to their win columns, as Bentz won the 100 free in 46.61, while Jay Litherland took the 100 back in 50.52.
The two other members of the Litherland triplets, Kevin and Mick, also notched a win each on Saturday. Kevin won the 500 free in 4:32.11 and Mick took the 200 fly with a 1:50.41. Mick finished second to Kevin in the 500 free with a 4:37.28.
Though the Dynamo men cleaned up with victories on the first day that included wins in the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay, SwimMAC got three wins on the women’s side. After a win in the 200 medley relay, Caitlin Casazza won the 200 breast with a 2:24.89, and Nora McCullagh took the 100 back with a 56.60.
SwimMAC’s women’s team was much stronger on Sunday, starting with a 1-2 finish in the 200 free relay. Kathleen Baker, who’s prepping for the Duel in the Pool, raced three times in the dual meet, winning the 100 fly in 54.00 to Stewart’s 54.88, and taking the 200 IM with a time of 2:01.85. She followed it up with a second-place finish in the 200 back to Stewart, 1:56.83 to 1:59.45. The swim offered up a reunion of the gold and silver medalists in the event from this past summer’s junior world championships.
McCullagh picked up another win, taking the 200 free in 1:50.05 over Stewart’s 1:50.26. The other SwimMAC win on the women’s side on day two came from junior worlds team member Maija Roses, who won the 100 breast with a 1:05.27.
On the men’s side, Bentz and Jay Litherland battled again, this time in the 100 breast and 200 IM. Jay got his first victory over Bentz, winning the 100 breast in 58.60 to Bentz’s 59.14. The 200 IM was decided by hundredths, with Bentz getting the win in 1:54.76 to Jay’s 1:54.87.
Mick Litherland was able to get the better of Bentz as well, out-touching him in the 100 fly, 50.43 to 50.56. Kevin Litherland picked up two wins on Sunday, winning the 200 free with a 1:41.44 and the 1000 free with a 9:21.67.
SwimMAC’s men’s team managed to score one individual event win as Graham Weaver and Connor Long tied with matching times of 21.65.
Other wins by Dynamo on the second day to round out the meet included a 23.82 in the 50 free by Caitlin Cooper and a 10:34.01 by Julia Durmer in the 1000 free to beat SwimMAC’s Elsa Welshofer by seven tenths of a second.