Washington swim team keeps pace at regional meet

Published 3:28 pm Monday, February 9, 2015

CONTRIBUTED TOP FINISH: All three of Washington’s boys’ relay teams medaled on Saturday at the regional meet. Back row (left to right): Mason Beach and Kevin Andrews. Front row (left to right): A.J. Howard and Tony Lovenberg.

TOP FINISH: All three of Washington’s boys’ relay teams medaled on Saturday at the regional meet. Back row (left to right): Mason Beach and Kevin Andrews. Front row (left to right): A.J. Howard and Tony Lovenberg.

CARY — Like an unpredictable ocean, the Washington swim team has faced its fair share of ups and downs this season, but on Saturday at the east regional championships, the Pam Pack’s young swimmers made waves, breaking school records, achieving personal-best times and building upon the foundation set last season.

For the second-consecutive year, the Washington boys finished in fourth place with 262 points, while the girls placed sixth in the region with 116.

“I was expecting some good swims, but they definitely exceeded my expectations and really showed up. It was fun to watch,” said head coach Spencer Pake.

Out of the regional qualifiers, there were few individual showings more impressive than the Pam Pack’s Kevin Andrews. Against some of North Carolina’s top high school talent, the Washington sophomore competed in a team-high four events, including two relays. Individually, Andrews took first place in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 54.71 seconds, beating the second-place time by about four seconds, while also later winning the 200-yard individual medley with a mark of two minutes and two seconds. Both were personal best times and school records.

“I’ve seen freshman go to other schools and have immediate impacts, but never at Washington High School,” Pake said. “We have coached swimmers just as good as Kevin, but they weren’t freshmen and sophomores, they were juniors and seniors by the time they got that good. Watching him develop has been awesome.”

Andrews’ impact was also felt in the relays, where he competed in the 200-yard medley relay, alongside A.J. Howard, Mason Beach and Tony Lovenberg, and in the 400-yard freestyle relay with Justin Clark and Tony and Eric Lovenberg. All three of the Washington relay teams placed — the 400-yard freestyle topping out with a silver medal.

The Washington girls’ relay teams did not medal, but had relative success down the stretch. The 200-yard medley team, consisting of Sydney Harris, Rylee Anderson, Warner Little and Amy Arnold, finished ninth (2:10.63), but the 200-yard and 400-yard freestyle teams, comprising of Arnold, Anderson, Harris, Courtney Richards and Megan Baldwin, placed fourth respectively.

“We had some girls who had to step up and swim some events, some of those relays. They all made it to states, so I’m very proud of those girls,” Pake said. “I feel like the quality of competition was a little tougher this year, which made our finish even more impressive.”

Four other Pam Pack swimmers joined Andrews on the podium, placing in the top three individually. Baldwin notched second-place finishes in the 50-yard breaststroke with a 1:09.05 mark and in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 24.70, just .11 of a second away from gold.

And while Andrews basked in the limelight after his record-breaking 100-yard backstroke swim, Clark came through with bronze, recording a 1:00.01 time. Eric Lovenberg’s time of 1:02.59 in the 100-yard breaststroke was good enough for third place and a little more than two seconds off Tarboro’s Cameron Anderson’s first-place mark.

Other notable Washington swims were Howard in the 50-yard free (23.60, sixth place), Tony Lovenberg in the 500-yard freestyle (5:20.41, seventh place), Clark in the 100-yard freestyle (51.68, sixth place), Howard in the 100-yard fly (57.69, fourth place) and Eric Lovenberg in the 200-yard freestyle (1:54.06, sixth place).

Washington’s respectable overall performance earned a total of 12 swimmers places at the state championships on Friday, along with a series of alternates. After last weekend’s performance, Pake likes his team’s chances this coming weekend.

“With the way we swam this past weekend, I’m expecting the same kind of performance, if not better,” he said. “If I can do my job as coach and have them ready, we should be in a good position to bring home some medals.”

The state championships kick off with the preliminary swims at 8:45 a.m. and the finals beginning at 5 p.m. Both will take place at the Triangle Aquatic Center.