VIRGINIA BEACH Gar-Field senior Brett MacLennan swam away with a national record and two state titles, in the individual medley and backstroke, at the Group AAA swimming championships at the Princess Anne Community Recreation Center.
MacLennan’s individual medley record was one of several set during Saturday evening’s finals, but it was probably also the most impressive.
Swimming against last year’s state champion, Mike Ott of Oakton, MacLennan started well and finished incredibly.
Ott, seeded first by beating MacLennan by .79 seconds in the preliminary, led after the butterfly, the first leg of the IM. But MacLennan pulled to neck-and-neck 75 meters into the race, during the backstroke, and never let up. By midway through the third stroke, the breast stroke, MacLennan had gained a half-body length lead over Ott and by the time he hit the freestyle, he had pulled away.
“I’ve never brought it back that strong,” said MacLennan, whose time broke a national record of 2:06.02, set last February by Jamie Wike, an Illinois high-schooler. His time also earns him automatic all-American status by the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association.
“[The national cut] was completely unexpected,” MacLennan said. “It came all in the freestyle.”
MacLennan bettered his seed time of 2:09.99 by more than four seconds.
In the backstroke, his seed time was two seconds ahead of the other seven competitors in the final race, and MacLennan kept it that way, winning with a 58.16 to second-place Parker Ramsdell’s 1:00.40.
The plethora of national records set at the meet was mainly due to the events being measured in meters instead of the more common yards. One coach estimated that 95 percent of the nation’s meets are measured in yards.
Stonewall Jackson’s Michael Cartwright also medaled, taking third in the 100 butterfly. The Raider senior finished seventh in the preliminary and swam in lane one, but he came in at 59.65, just nine hundredths of a second ahead of two swimmers who tied for fourth.
“I could tell I was a little ahead, because I couldn’t see the guy next to me,” said Cartwright.
He said he heard cheering, and even if it wasn’t for him, it meant somebody was making a push.
Osbourn’s Josh Nicoletti took fifth place in the state in the 100 breast stroke, and Osbourn Park’s Erin Hammersley and Drew Chartrand, Stafford’s Nick Lloyd and Colonial Forge’s Thomas Martz each checked in with top eight finishes, as did Gar-Field’s boys medley relay and Stonewall Jackson’s boys 400 freestyle relay.
In all, 12 Prince William or Stafford area boys swimmers qualified for individual finals, along with five relay teams. Six individual girls and four relays competed in Saturday’s finals.
Swimmers representing all 11 area Group AAA schools that compete in the sport participated in Friday’s preliminaries. Diving events, usually dominated by teams from Fairfax, were held Saturday morning.
Thomas Jefferson won the overall girls team championship, while Robinson won the boys. Gar-Field’s boys were the highest area finisher, ranking 11th among the boys. Stonewall Jackson’s boys at 14th and Osbourn’s at 25th were the only other area schools in the top 30.
Please see Monday’s editions for more from the state swim meet.