The water shimmered as clear blue as the sky for the Old Dominion Swim League’s season-ending all-star meet, held July 27 at the pool at Belmont Country Club.
A total of 488 young swimmers representing 31 teams across Loudoun competed in 52 all-star events, racing 25 meters from wall to wall, officiated by nearly 150 volunteers. Emblazoned on the swimmers’ caps were names like Froggers, Piranhas, Krakens and Eeliminators.
Each swimmer had earned the all-star selection by virtue of a top-18 event ranking achieved during the summer season.
Five new league records were established at all-stars, including Mackenzie McConagha of Broadlands, who shaved two-thirds of a second off her own 2018 mark in the girls ages 15-18 50-meter backstroke.
McConagha, who swims for Briar Woods, also came within 0.12 seconds of the ODSL record in the 100-meter individual medley.
Trace Wall of the Brambleton Bettas broke a pair of league records, both previously owned by former Bettas teammate Simon Shi, who now swims for Virginia Tech.
“I’ve always looked up to him and I’ve been working really hard to get those records,” said Wall, a rising Rock Ridge senior who committed to Georgia Tech a week prior to all-stars. “It felt really good to get them.”
Wall’s sister Tatum has already qualified for Olympic trials, something Trace will look to duplicate at the U.S. Junior Nationals qualifier Aug. 6-10 at Stanford University.
“I’m 0.4 away from the Olympic trials [in the 50-meter freestyle],” he said. “It’ll be exciting to swim there for another chance at it.”
Kaitlyn Estes of Lenah Run was a three-time winner on the day, reaching the wall first in the girls 11-12 100-meter individual medley, the 50-meter butterfly and the backstroke, breaking a league mark in the latter.
“I was going for [the record], but I wasn’t sure if I could get it,” said Estes, an ODSL swimmer since age 5. “I wasn’t sure until I saw the time.”
In her final ODSL all-star appearance, Sofia Davis of the Lovettsville Dolphins took home titles in the girls 15-18 breaststroke and freestyle. Davis will swim for the University of Kentucky after graduating from the Madeira School in McLean.
Bringing attention to her hometown is part of the fun for Davis.
“Representing Lovettsville has always been so special to me,” she said. “It’s such a small town and we’re such a small team, so I just love representing my town.”
Davis is gearing up to swim in seven events at the NCSA Junior Nationals, set for Aug. 6-10 in Indianapolis. The ODSL all-star meet is a pleasant warm-up.
“I love coming out here for all-stars, always have since I was 6,” she said.
It was the first time in a long time that Collin Hughes wasn’t part of the ODSL’s all-star field. The 19-year-old Leesburg native and former Woodlea Manor Watermoc now swims for Johns Hopkins University.
He was poolside at Belmont to watch his kid brother, 9-year-old Cayden, compete in three events.
“He really impressed me today with his mental toughness,” said Collin of Cayden. “He started out rough but picked it up in the second race, then picked it up even more in his third race.”
The younger Hughes shook off a 12th-place finish in the boys 9-10 50-meter freestyle to improve to seventh in the 50-meter breaststroke - setting a personal best - and fifth in the 100-meter individual medley.
“I was a little concerned [after the first race],” Cayden said. “But I felt really good in the breast and the IM, good technique.”
The all-star meet saw its fair share of close finishes. In the girls 13-14 butterfly, Kylie Boyle of Willowsford edged Brambleton’s Alden Zerkle by 0.08 seconds, while Boyle’s teammate Mason Menz nipped Stone Ridge’s Bryce Rohr in the boys 11-12 butterfly by all of 0.06 seconds.
Zerkle returned the favor in the 100-meter medley race, touching the wall a tenth of a second before Lansdowne’s Kylie Sessions. She also nosed out teammate Jasmine Boggs by 0.14 seconds in the 50-meter butterfly.
Wall missed out on his third championship of the day when Steven Thalblum of Evergreen Meadows took the boys 15-18 individual medley by 0.11 seconds.
In the boys 7-8 25-meter backstroke, Landon Mollerup of Lenah Mills edged Will Snowden of Tavistock Farms by 0.19 seconds, while Lansdowne’s Harrison Tragle beat Potomac Station’s Tyler Stafford by 0.2 seconds in the boys 9-10 butterfly.
They weren’t all close calls. Chase Rabe ran away with the boys 10U 100-meter individual medley by a margin of nearly six and a half seconds, and Kylie Boyle took the girls 13-14 50-meter backstroke by almost three seconds.
Eric Ramey is the president of the ODSL. He said the league is all about having fun.
“When you see the looks on their faces when they get out of the pool, that’s what makes it for us,” he said. “Seeing their sense of accomplishment is what inspires us volunteers.”
Estes said that, as a year-round swimmer, she looks forward to the ODSL season every summer.
“I think of this league as the fun part. ODSL is where I can just relax and enjoy swimming,” she said.
ODSL scholarship winners
Gabby Zhang, Loudoun Valley Estates Torpedoes
2018 grad, Rock Ridge High School
College of William & Mary (varsity)
Jackson McCummings, Belmont Sharks
2019 grad, Riverside High School
University of Virginia (club)
25-meter free: Aidan Hughes (Brambleton), 20.43
25 back: Aidan Hughes (Brambleton), 25.53
25 free: Arianna Wong (Stone Ridge), 22.29
25 back: Sara Tirri (Brambleton), 25.05
25 free: Shane Hickey (Willowsford), 17.43
25 back: Landon Mollerup (Lenah Mill), 20.71
25 free: Logan Noyes (South Riding), 17.6
25 back: Logan Noyes (South Riding), 21.36
25 breast: Pierson Kao (Loudoun Valley Estates), 23.55
25 fly: Pierson Kao (Loudoun Valley Estates), 19.51
25 breast: Savannah Valdecanas (Lifetime), 25.25
25 fly: Morgan Farmer (Greenway Farms), 20.84
100 IM: Chase Rabe (Willowsford), 1:21.87
100 IM: Maya Thaivalappil (Stone Ridge), 1:21.53
50 free: Allen Wang (Belmont), 31.98
50 back: Chase Rabe (Willowsford), 37.86
50 breast: Chase Rabe (Willowsford), 42.08
25 fly: Harrison Tragle (Lansdowne), 17.74
50 free: Maya Thaivalappil (Stone Ridge), 32.91
50 back: Allison Hufnagel (Belmont), 39.66
50 breast: Nina Wysocki (Brambleton), 39.82
25 fly: Maya Thaivalappil (Stone Ridge), 16.04
50 free: Mason Menz (Willowsford), 27.97
50 back: Owen Cather (Broadlands), 32.33
50 breast: Bryce Rohr (Stone Ridge), 36.5
50 fly: Mason Menz (Willowsford), 32.29
100 IM: Bryce Rohr (Stone Ridge), 1:11.01
50 free: Victoria Santino (Lifetime), 29.88
50 back: Kaitlyn Estes (Lenah Run), 31.39*
50 breast: Victoria Santino (Lifetime), 38.55
50 fly: Kaitlyn Estes (Lenah Run), 31.57
100 IM: Kaitlyn Estes (Lenah Run), 1:11.55
50 free: Eric Kim (Loudoun Valley Estates), 26.1
50 back: Tinn Nguyen (Lifetime), 28.39*
50 breast: Wade Weston (Brambleton), 33.95
50 fly: Eric Kim (Loudoun Valley Estates), 28.36
100 IM: Eric Kim (Loudoun Valley Estates), 1:03.79
50 free: Alden Zerkle (Brambleton), 28.94
50 back: Kylie Boyle (Willowsford), 31.15
50 breast: Abigail Foley (Lenah Run), 36.9
50 fly: Kylie Boyle (Willowsford), 31.21
100 IM: Alden Zerkle (Brambleton), 1:11.08
50 free: Trace Wall (Brambleton), 23.61*
50 back: Steven Thalblum (Evergreen Meadows), 27.29
50 breast: Jackson McCummings (Belmont), 31.56
50 fly: Trace Wall (Brambleton), 25.32*
100 IM: Steven Thalblum (Evergreen Meadows), 58.24
50 free: Sofia Davis (Lovettsville), 27.93
50 back: Mackenzie McConagha (Broadlands), 28.90*
50 breast: Sofia Davis (Lovettsville), 34.23
50 fly: Mackenzie McConagha (Broadlands), 28.82
100 IM: Mackenzie McConagha (Broadlands), 1:04.07
-Photos by Tavan Smith