Thirty-six teams from the Mid-Penn Swim League, representing the East Shore, and the Capital Area Swim League, representing the West Shore, converged on the Hershey Aquatic Club pool for the Mid-Cap Swimming Championships.
Nearly in the shadow of the Kissing Tower at Hersheypark, the meet featured all-stars from both leagues on Saturday, July 29.
Willowood was listed as having 52 athletes compete, which was the fourth-highest total behind Hershey (74), Heatherfield (60) and Devon Crest (55).
The Willowood male swimmers accounted for 265 points (7th) and the female swimmers accounted 204 points (11th) for a team score of 469 points (7th).
Morgan Conway won the girls 9-10 50-yard breastroke with a time of 37.79 seconds. She was seeded with a time of 40.98 seconds.
The relay team of Caleigh Troop, Olivia Kapcsos, Audra Kuntz and Noa Williams won the girls 8 and under 100-yard medley relay.
Everett Rachael was another Willowood winner as he took first in the boys 9-10 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle. He posted a 28.08 in the 50-yard event and a 1:02.49 in the 100-yard event. The second-place finisher in the 100-yard freestyle was a full seven seconds behind Rachael.
Everett’s dad had promised him a puppy if he were to break a meet record in any of his events and Rachael nearly did just that. The meet record in the 50-yard freestyle was 27.77 seconds set by Jeremy Linn. He was 0.32 seconds away from breaking the record.
While Rachael left the meet puppy-less, Catherine Young and Frank Arendt left the meet for the final time as a Willowood swimmer.
“It’s tough to see them swim their last swim, but exciting at the same time. They both had great swims so it was a good way to cap off their career with us,” co-head coach Dan Mikula said.
Zach McElheny, co-head coach as well, said that the team swam “phenomenal” and delivered everything that he was hoping for and more.
“We dropped more time than we did at All-Stars last week and we had a lot of best times there. To see kids drop a second or two here was awesome,” McElheny said.
Mikula went on to say that several swimmers that qualified for Junior Olympics and they were beating their seed times for Junior Olympics at Mid-Caps.
McElheny also expressed that this was one of his favorite seasons to coach the Willowood Bluefins because they were able to compete in the A Division after winning only one meet last year.
“We got to show everybody that we’re here to stay in A Division and we can swim fast. It was awesome to see kids drop five seconds from the beginning of the season in some events. That’s all we can ask for,” McElheny said.
With two full A Division seasons under their belt, McElheny and Mikula said that they would like to continue to build off a strong season to be even more competitive next year.
“I think we started out strong right out of the gate this year. I think we just have to continue on with that momentum. The kids are getting used to, maybe not always winning, but swimming fast and racing. I think that is something that we’ve learned to do over the years. I think that is what’s making us a legitimate A Division contender. The kids are learning how to race and that’s the difference-maker,” Mikula said.
“One of the things that we always look forward to is the next year and some of the new faces. We’re always looking to include kids. One thing I’d like to see is some more swimmers coming out to check out the team and seeing what all the chat is about.”
Full meet results can be found here.