Once again proving they’re at the top of the food chain, the Chardon Sharks continued to feast during the 49th annual swimming of the Chagrin Valley Invitational Relays on Saturday at the recreation center in Chagrin Falls.
Breaking six records and winning 20 of 37 events, four by upset, the Chardon Recreation swim team made it a bad day to be a seal as the Sharks ate up the gold-medal count for the fourth straight year, while Bainbrook/Laurel Springs, of Bainbridge, won five gold medals and Landerwood Swim Club, of Pepper Pike, posted three victories with one meet record. The Macedonia Manta Rays also broke a record for a total of eight meet marks that were rewritten.
Host Chagrin Valley Recreation Center, the Chagrin Valley Athletic Club, Lake in the Woods and the Solon Recreation Center also were among the 14 teams that swam in the prelim-final competition, which drew 503 swimmers and 530 relay entries.
The invitational not only features four-member relays for each of the four swimming strokes plus the standard medleys – backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle – but it also includes various age-group structures, a mixture of genders and family-only events.
The 100-foot, or 33 1/3-yard, eight-lane outdoor pool on the Chagrin Falls Upper School campus also adds to the uniqueness of the meet. All relays are 133 yards versus a typical 200-yard relay.
While the meet attracts 8-and-under and college swimmers alike, not to mention the old-timers who refuse to give up their competitive drive, no team scores are kept in the neighborhood friendly, but that doesn’t stop the prelim sandbagging from turning into a fish-eat-fish frenzy when medals and bragging rights are on the line in the evening finals.
The first record of the finals came in the mixed-open backstroke, when Chardon’s Sarah Bennett, 16, Lachlan Koenen, 15, Maddie Pierce, 17, and Matt Parrish, 38, clocked a 1:11.40 to win the race by 8.1 seconds and best host Chagrin Rec’s 2015 meet standard by 0.26 second.
Parrish, who is entering his eighth year as the head coach of the Chardon High School varsity swim team, has been competing in the Chagrin Rec Relays for more than a decade. Keeping with the competitive spirit of the meet, he said he lost 15 pounds in preparation. The 38-year-old finished the day with three gold medals.
While the meet is 49 years of age, its record book is only 11 years old. The invitational established a new book starting in 2008 because of a rule change that requires the two swimmers on each relay who start from the shallow end of the pool to use push-off starts instead of the much faster dive start. It was enacted following state regulations that prohibit head-first entries in less than 4 feet of water.
Nonetheless, three of eight meet standards set on Saturday would have been records in the old book, too, including that mixed-open backstroke quartet.
Meanwhile, Chardon’s mixed 48-and-under medley team of Jonathan Ratke, 13, Briella Hewitt, 10, Lizzie Rockenberger, 12, and Nathan Bender, 13, clocked a 1:21.55 to win the race by 11.12 seconds and smash Solon Rec’s 2015 meet-in-water mark by 2.37 seconds. Not to mention, that quartet also bested a 1995 mark by Four Seasons from the old record book.
And Chardon’s mixed 50-and-under butterfly team of Stella Parrish, 13, Miguel Figueroa, 12, Hewitt and Eddie Kokos, 15, clocked a 1:16.38 to win gold by 19.42 seconds and best Chagrin Rec’s 2012 meet mark by 1.12 seconds – also better than any old-book marks.
Overall, Hewitt and Figueroa captured four gold medals apiece for the Sharks, while Kokos and the younger Parrish won three gold each.
BBLS captures five gold
While Bainbrook/Laurel Springs, of Bainbridge Township, is only a neighborhood club, its swimmers flexed their fins against city recreation teams by finishing runner-up in the gold-medal count for the third straight year at the Chagrin Rec Relays on Saturday.
Representing BBLS in the girls 42-and-under breaststroke relay, Josie Stever, 10, Giuliana Walters, 9, Madison Jones, 13, and Morgan Cicek, 10, clocked a 1:57.24 to best runner-up Purvis Park, of University Heights, by 15.78 seconds.
Purvis Park, which joined the invite last year, is under the direction of Brian Perry, who is entering his 19th year as the head coach at his alma mater University School in Hunting Valley. Perry swam in the rec relays in his youth, representing Solon and Lake in the Woods, of Bainbridge.
Meanwhile, the BBLS boys 54-and-under breaststroke relay of Carter McAbier, 15, Mason Schurr, 11, Kyle McAbier, 17, and Tyler Jones, 11, clocked a triumphant 1:43.08 to best Chagrin Rec’s runner-up team of Jake Freese, 17, Josh Baraona, 10, Charlie Aspin, 14, and Max Mignona, 13, by 10.37 seconds.
In the boys 54-and-under freestyle relay, the BBLS team of the younger McAbier, 15, Max Frampton, 14, Nick Korenowski, 14, and Jones clocked a 1:11.63 to hold off Chardon’s runner-up Sharks by 2.51 seconds.
In the mixed-open butterfly relay, the BBLS quartet of Makena Maurer, a 2018 Kenston graduate, coach Kayla Korenowski, a 2015 Kenston graduate, Grant Pinchot, a 2015 Solon graduate, and the elder McAbier, a rising senior at Kenston, clocked a triumphant 1:09.01 to best runner-up Chardon by 2.32 seconds.
And in the open family freestyle relay, Carter McAbier, Tanja McAbier, 47, Kyle McAbier and Jay McAbier, 46, won gold in 1:11.65, to best the Chagrin Valley Athletic Club’s runner-up team of Sydney Bare, 14, Jeremy Bare, 44, Bill Bare, 43, and Libby Bare, 16, who clocked a 1:15.05 to touch out the Twinsburg Tigersharks’ Bartel family by 0.05 second.
The younger Bare is a rising sophomore at Hawken School, the elder Bare is a rising junior at Chagrin Falls, and Bill Bare is a USA Swimming coach for the Great Lakes Sailfish Swimming club’s branch out of CVAC.
Landerwood breaks record
Landerwood Swim Club, of Pepper Pike, dropped its sandbags early for a record-breaking swim during prelim competition, before going on to capture three gold medals in the evening finals.
In the girls 42-and-under medley relay, Beth Halloran, 12, Elizabeth Campbell, 9, Nina Deshpande, 11, and Lizzie Covington, 10, clocked a 1:39.56 in prelims to best Chagrin Rec’s 2009 meet mark by 1.12 seconds. That quartet then returned for the finals and clocked a 1:41.49 to best the runner-up Macedonia Manta Rays by 3.86 seconds for gold.
In the girls 54-and-under breaststroke relay, Landerwood’s team of Julia Sell, 14, Covington, Sarah Pophal, 12, and Megan Dickinson, 18, won gold in 1:42.32, besting Chagrin Valley Athletic Club’s runner-up team of Mandy Glime, 15, Lisa Markoff, 12, Alex Koler, 12, and Sydney Bare, 14, by 1.98 seconds.
And in the 16-and-over relay, for the not-so-young competitors, Landerwood’s team of Thomas Fellowes, 25, a 2010 Orange graduate, Morgan Willoughby, 36, Mike Slabe, 55, and Joe Pophal, 51, clocked a winning time of 1:09.50 to edge out a fellow Landerwood quartet of Hillary Rockey, 30, Sarah Hannibal, 47, Craig Hannibal, 47, and Ross Halloran, 42, by 0.61 second.
CVRC, CVAC win gold
Host Chagrin Valley Recreation Center and the Chagrin Valley Athletic Club captured one gold apiece during the 49th annual invitational relays on Saturday.
In the girls 54-and-under backstroke relay, CVAC Maelstrom’s team of Libby Bare, 16, Sienna Koler, 10, Alexa Koler, 12, and Mandy Glime, 15, clocked a triumphant 1:31.27 to touch out runner-up Chardon by 0.26 second.
And in the boys 54-and-under backstroke relay, host CVRC’s quartet of Cam Mateyo, 11, Tommy Brennan, 12, Ethan Johnson, 16, and Ryan Mateyo, 14, won gold in 1:26.45 to beat out the runner-up Aurora Shores Sharks by 0.88 second.
Meanwhile, the Barrington Barracudas won the open family medley relay with the Telerico family of Mia, 16, Nicholas, 18, Anthony, 19, and Mark, 48, clocking a 1:13.38 to beat out CVRC’s Wintering family of Alex, 16, Tom, 26, Tim, 21, and Phil, 59, by 3.85 seconds. CVAC Maelstrom’s Bare family of Libby, 16, Sydney, 14, Bill, 43, and Jeremy, 44, won bronze in 1:22.74.
Also capturing gold, the Macedonia Manta Rays won three relays, the Hawthorne Hurricanes of Aurora won two relays, and the Aurora Shores Sharks won one relay.