Top 10 Stories 2016: Pam Pack swimming wins state title

Published 6:55 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Washington’s boys’ swim team did something no other Pam Pack group had done in three decades — bring a championship back to Washington. The boys navigated unchartered waters all season. They won the program’s first regional championship, and on Feb. 13, earned the title of best 1-A/2-A team in the state.

With three events left in the meet, the Pam Pack trailed then-leader Bishop McGuinness by nine points. However, there was a palpable sense of confidence. The remaining events were three of the team’s strongest — 100-yard backstroke, 100-yard breaststroke and the 400-yard freestyle relay.

Kevin Andrews ignited the late comeback by winning the 100-yard backstroke to become Washington’s first-ever male individual champion. The last Washington swimmer to win individual gold was Emily Pfeiffer in 2013. She’s now swimming for UNC-Chapel Hill.

“It’s been pretty great. I’m proud of everybody and I’m sure everybody else is proud of the whole team,” Andrews said after the meet. “I was pretty confident. I wasn’t going to go easy by any means. I was going to go hard and get my best time. … (Winning a championship) has always been my goal in my high school career.”

Bishop McGuinness had swimmers competing in the 100-yard backstroke, but didn’t have anyone in the 100-yard breaststroke. Eric Lovenberg placed third to earn the Pam Pack valuable points.

That left the 400-yard freestyle relay. Carrboro and Lincoln Charter were still in contention, and the event was a forte for them, too. Tony and Eric Lovenberg, Justin Clark and Andrews earned the Pam Pack third to pull away for the state championship.

“It’s amazing,” Eric Lovenberg said afterwards. “We’ve worked so hard for it all year. Everybody just came together as a team and it was a great meet.”

Lovenberg earned a sportsmanship award at the meet, too.

The boys finished with 236.5 points. Lincoln Charter (217.5) and Carrboro (210) followed in second and third, respectively.

“I knew that if we could keep it close in the first half, have some strong swims and keep it close, we would give ourselves a chance in the end,” coach Spencer Pake said after the win. “That’s what happened. It was the back half of that meet. We came back and came away with a state championship.”

The state championship was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication put in by the upperclassmen. A lot of them had been swimming together with East Carolina Aquatics from a young age.

Washington is off to a strong start in defending its title. The boys have taken on the likes of New Bern, Conley, Rose and other top-notch schools in the area. They return in the New Year on Jan. 7. They’ll travel to ECU for an eight-team meet.