BAUMHOLDER, Germany — The European Forces Swim League’s first long-distance meet, held simultaneously Saturday at Baumholder and Vicenza, Italy, ended a long wait for EFSL head coach Peter Trummer.

“I’ve been trying for more than 10 years to get this in,” Trummer said Saturday as he watched 157 swimmers compete in the 800-meter freestyle and 400- meter individual medley. “Long distance is a part of the swimming family.”

Until Saturday, however, it was a part of the family estranged from the 27-year-old EFSL, which conducts swimming meets for military community youths aged 6 to 19 in an 18-community league.

Saturday’s events, Trummer said, filled a void in the league’s ability to develop swimmers.

“We have a lot of talent in the EFSL,” Trummer said, “but sometimes when our kids return to the States or Canada or countries where swimming is popular, they’re lost in the woods because they’ve never done distance.”

Saturday’s winners will receive league championship medals and team and individual points counting toward overall titles at the EFSL’s annual final meet at the Munich Olympic pool in February.

Those results will be available later this week.

“We’ll take the times from here and combine them with the times from Vicenza,” said Kaiserslautern Kingfish assistant coach Mark Pakradooni. “The swimmers will receive their medals in Munich.”

One of those in medal contention in the 800 is 16-year-old Kingfish Justin Smith, the overall winner at Baumholder.

“This was my first one,” he said of the 800 freestyle race he completed in 9 minutes, 48.38 seconds.

Smith, who’s been swimming competitively for 10 years, finished the 32-lap race almost 10 seconds ahead of runner-up Sascha Henrichs of the SHAPE Seals. The two were the only swimmers of any age group to finish in less than 10 minutes here Saturday.

Smith, who said his preferred event is the 100-meter breaststroke, called the 800 “mentally tiring.”

“You’re swimming and looking at the lap counter and thinking ‘Oh my gosh, I’m not even halfway finished yet,’ ” he said.

“You have to concentrate the whole time,” said teammate Danny Edwards, who clocked 10:00.72, “because if your form starts to deteriorate, you’re in trouble.”

Overall girls winner in the 800 was Terri Plotkin of the Kingfish, who swam 10:10.35 in the 13-14 year-old category.

Swimmers as young as 10 raced in the 800. Trummer said it will help them build muscle and endurance.

“They have good hearts and good lungs,” Trummer said. “A lot of them are more comfortable swimming distance events than the older ones.”

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