White Caps win summer swim league championship

Published 1:24 pm Monday, August 4, 2014



GREENVILLE — Head coach Spencer Pake and White Caps have faced their fair share of adversity this season. After finishing with a mediocre 4-3 record and fifth-place finish in the regular season, inconsistent numbers and sporadic sickness surrounded Washington with many questions entering the championship meet.

Nevertheless, coach Pake remained confident, counting on some of his habitual performers to propel the team to a top spot. If all the pieces came together, he figured a second-place finish was a realistic expectation. The White Caps came through on the biggest stage.

In a meet that came down to the final two relays, Washington won its second-straight Greenville Summer Swim League Championship on Saturday, finishing with 329 points, just 13-points better than second-place Tarboro.

“I’m very proud of this team,” coach Pake said. “I’ve told them all year and told the parents, it’s been a fun season and I really enjoyed this team. The new kids got so much better from the beginning and were contributors for us. I’m very proud of these guys, how they stepped up in the rain and swam their hearts out for me.”

With thunderstorms in the forecast, coaches decided to take as few breaks as possible and attempt to get the full meet completed. The result was a split table, as five teams scored less than 220 points. Ending with over 300 points, Washington, Tarboro and the Greenville Country Club separated themselves from the pack.

In opening 100- and 200-yard free relays, Washington swam well and locked up four top-three finishes, including capturing first place in the 12U 200 free and 18U 200 free.

The top finishes continued into the 100-yard individual medleys. Mary Scott Sheppard, the most consistent swimmer in the 9-10-year old age group, won her race by more than three seconds with a time of 1:31.91. Darah Cole finished a second behind the leader in her race, while teammates Carter Barnes and Justin Clark had a photo finish in the 13-14-year-old race. Kaitlyn Richards, Eric Lovenberg and Tony Lovenberg also gained the White Caps points with top-three finishes.

Greenville Country Club pulled away in the 25- and 50-yard free style races with an assortment of great swims. For Washington, Campbell Barnes won the 50 free over Greenville Country Club and Tarboro swimmers with a 32.35. Clark won his race by less than a second with a 24.97 mark and Pam Pack star Kevin Andrews outlasted Tarboro’s Jack Coltrane with an impressive 24.19 finish. Mary Scott Sheppard, Cayden Pake, Cole, Patrick Lovenberg and AJ Howard also placed in the top three in their respective age groups.

As Greenville Country Club picked up some more wins, Tarboro and Washington remained quietly consistent in the 25- and 50-yard backstroke swims. Ty Cole, Hayes Pippin, Howard, Cole and Richards all clocked times good enough for a top-three spot, while Parker Sheppard (33.91), Carter Barnes (28.72) and Andrews (27.59) won their circuits.

Washington took a step backwards in the breaststroke swims, as Patrick Lovenberg, Clark, Warner Little and Andrews all finished in the top three, but couldn’t pull out the win. It was the first race Andrews had dropped all season.

With a time of 36.40, Campbell Barnes finished second in the 50-yard fly, while Howard and Carter Barnes battled it out for first and second, respectively, in the 13-14-year-old age group. Rylee Anderson and Eric Lovenberg also finished in the top three.

With a tight contest between Washington, Tarboro and Greenville Country Club, the championship would come down to the final relay races. To start things off for the White Caps, Ty Cole, Drew Cox, Victor Hill and Annabelle Howdy took second in the 8U race with a 1:46.25 mark. After a tough swim for the 10U team, the 12U team locked up second place with a time of 3:03.32, but Tarboro’s squad had all the momentum, finishing first by almost 30 seconds.

Tarboro won the 14U race, as Washington’s team of Samantha Garcia, Amanda Manning, Hodges Tubaugh and Caroline Manning took second.

But in the final relay (18U), Washington’s team of Kaitlyn Richards, Little, Robert Mayo and Griffin Morehead defeated Tarboro by two seconds, locking up the title for the White Caps.

“We had quite a few first-place finishes, but they weren’t the only ones who helped us win,” coach Pake said. “We had a lot of second-, third- and fourth-place finishes. They all combined for a lot of points and we ended up winning the meet.”

Coach Pake and his team jumped in the pool, tangled in pool dividers, to celebrate their second-straight championship. The White Caps head coach says success in the league will help gain interest in the sport.

“With swimming, you have to be patient. It’s a process,” he said. “They’re going to get much better when they get older. We’re just trying to build a love for the sport, so when they do get to high school they’ll come and swim for (the Pam Pack).”