Swimmers cap season with strong efforts
By MICHAEL S. DARNELL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 28, 2016
EINDHOVEN, Netherlands – The European Forces Swim League championships is a marathon event - swum 50, 100, 200 and 400 meters at a time.
With one day in the record books, the nearly 500 competitors turned their eyes Sunday to the final day of the competition.
For some, this was to be their final official high school competitive swim. Next year’s finals will look quite a bit different without names like Wiesbaden’s Jon Roddy, Kaiserslautern’s Emma Thomas and Lakenheath’s record-setting senior Alaina Scifo.
“It’s kind of sad because I’ve been doing it for so long, but it’s also exciting because I get to move on to college,” Scifo said.
For many others, it was a day to prove that the hundreds of practices, strict diets and constant competitions paid off.
Here were some of the standouts in each age bracket.
Girls 8 and under
To no surprise, Hylcke de Beer dominated this category. The pint-sized Orca won in every single category on the day and broke records in the 200-meter medley, the 50 freestyle, the 50 backstroke and the 100 freestyle.
She said that while she enjoys swimming a great deal of that goes to the wayside when it’s time to compete. Then, she added, it’s just time to win. That was fairly evident as she ended both days with seven new records with her name on them.
Boys 8 and under
Leon Pierre-Louis won the 50 freestyle for K-Town, while SHAPE’s Daniel Heath was first in the 50 backstroke. Stuttgart’s Teddy Benard placed first in the 200 individual medley in 3 minutes, 37.56 seconds.
Naples’ Brooke Ralston won the 50 freestyle with a time of 0:35.88 and picked a victory in the 100 freestyle. Sigonella’s Ellie Brassart took first in the backstroke.
Stuttgart’s A.J. Groppel won the 50 freestyle. Maxime Moratona narrowly missed breaking the record in the 50 backstroke by one-tenth of a second, finishing with a time of 0:40.67. Hopefully, his other win in the 100 freestyle helped ease the sting a little.
Maddie Davenport won more than a few awards. On Sunday, the Vicenza swimmer won the 200 medley with a time of 3:02.04. While good enough for first, it wasn’t quite what she was hoping for. “I felt like I could’ve done a little better,” she said. “In the butterfly, I needed to kick a little harder and go much faster. I was trying to pace myself.” She also took gold in the 50 backstroke and the 100 freestyle.
C.J. Davis cleaned up on Sunday, winning the 200 medley, 100 freestyle and the 50 freestyle and backstroke. Coupled with his three wins from the day prior, Davis had a productive weekend.
This bracket belonged to Annika Zimmerer from Kaiserslautern. She won the 200 medley, as well as the 50 and 100 freestyles along with the 50 backstroke.
Andrew Hendrickson broke his own record in the 200 medley, set earlier this month, with a time of 2:40.88. He also etched his name into the swimming annals with a new record in the 50 backstroke and the 100 freestyle.
Stuttgart’s Ella Bathurst continued her fantastic run, smashing a 24-year-old record in the 50 freestyle. Her time of 0:27.81 crushed the previous record of 0:29.50 set in 1992 by Sedia Nuberg. She also broke a 3-year-old record in the 200 medley with a time of 2:34.43. Bathurst had a weekend to remember, setting records in eight separate events.
NATO Marlin Timo Sieverding was king of this bracket Sunday, racking up wins in the 50 freestyle and backstroke, the 100 freestyle. He also went the distance in the 200 medley, winning with a time of 2:52.29.
If Sieverding was king of his bracket, Kylie Davenport was queen of hers. The Vicenza swimmer won the 50 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 200 freestyle and 200 medley. Those wins were added to her impressive three-win tally from Saturday.
Lisbon’s Luis Carrara won the 50 freestyle, 100 backstroke and the 200 freestyle. Kenji Zaharchuk topped the 200 medley, winning with a 2:25.72. The Berlin Bear-A-Cuda said he was happy to win, but even happier to be a part of the finals. “It doesn’t really matter how other people do, I just like swimming,” he said.
Ariana Lewis, one of Stuttgart’s stalwart competitors from Saturday, returned her winning ways on Sunday. She won the 200 medley, 200 freestyle and the 50 freestyle.
Dominic Scifo continued his winning ways. The younger half of the brother-sister tandem from Lakenheath won in every early event. His victories in the 200 medley and the 50 freestyle helped temper a Saturday that didn’t always go his way.
Kaiserslautern’s Matthew Pollmiller had a fantastic win in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:03.21. He also won the 200 freestyle.
Alaina Scifo is on her last year of high school-level competition. She’ll be moving on to college next year, leaving behind a legacy of success that will be difficult to top. That legacy grew a little larger Sunday by setting a new record in the 100 backstroke and with victories in the 200 medley, 200 freestyle and the 50 freestyle.
Geilenkirchen’s Roman Jantos took the 50 freestyle and the 200 freestyle. Isidro Carrara won the 200 medley with an impressive 2:25.76 and grabbed victory in the 100 backstroke.
As with the rest of the seniors who participated on Sunday, this was his final major high school swim competition. He said he’s looking forward to college, but said he’ll always remember his time as a Lisbon Bullshark.
“I’m going to miss this,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
Rota's Meredith Stanton pulls ahead of Kaiserslautern's Lily Pflugradt during the girls' 200-meter individual medley as the second day of the 2016 European Forces Swim League championships kicked off in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016. Stanton won that heat with a time of 4:17.29.
MICHAEL S. DARNELL/STARS AND STRIPES