By David Wagner
The Crozet Gators Swim Team won the 2013 Jefferson Swim League championship meet at the UVA Aquatics Center July 26 and 27, knocking the Fairview Swim Club off the throne it had occupied for 22 years. Crozet won by 28 points, scoring 1908.75 points to Fairview’s 1880.75 points. Fairview had won every JSL Champs meet since 1991. Seventeen teams from four Central Virginia counties competed at the meet. Boar’s Head Swim Team placed third with 1789.25 points.
Over the past decade the Gators have threatened to win nearly every year, but in the end continued to come up short. Through lots of hard work, determination and perseverance, the Gators climbed the mountain this year and claimed the coveted championship. This title not only goes to the swimmers, but all of the dedicated parents, volunteers, coaches and anyone else who has been close to the program in the last 15 years or more. So many people in the Crozet community have given their time, resources and talent over the years and this is the culmination of all that hard work and commitment. From former head coach Doc Remaly, to all of the parents that have been involved, to the dedicated group that made the pool dome a reality, this one’s for you. It’s a shining example of people coming together as a community, working towards a goal and achieving that goal. Here’s to a job well done.
The meet is divided into four sessions over two days. In session one, which is not scored, the five- and six-year-olds swim. There were some notable performances from these young Gators. In the 6 and under 100 yard mixed freestyle relay, the team of Colby Grimes, Eli Radio, Thomas Heilman and Sophia Garono took first place. Thomas Heilman also took top honors with first place finishes in the 25 freestyle and 25 backstroke. Colby Grimes took fifth place in the 25 free and seventh place in the 25 backstroke, Eli Radio was ninth in 25 back and 15th in 25 free and Sophia Garono finished third in the girls 6 and under 25 freestyle.
Going into session two on Friday night, Gators Head Coach Greg Remaly was hoping to stay close to Fairview, knowing it wasn’t Crozet’s strongest group over the two-day event. Featuring senior boys and girls (15-18 year olds), 13-14 boys and girls and the 9-10 boys, the Gators managed to keep it close enough, though Coach Remaly wasn’t confident of that outcome. The Gators trailed by a little more than 160 points when all was said and done Friday.
The 9-10 boys did their part, scoring more than 200 points. They took first place in the 200 medley relay with the team of Tom House, Matthew Heilman, Gibbs Gresge and Zach Farmer. They also took third place in the 200 free relay with the team of Zach Farmer, Liam Harris, Josh Inouye and Lucas Farmer. Tom House was the leader of the pack, also nabbing first place in 50 back, second in 100 free and third in 50 butterfly. Matthew Heilman finished third in the 50 breaststroke, fourth in 50 free and fifth in the 100 IM (individual medley). Gibbs Gresge grabbed sixth place in both the 50 breast and 50 fly and a ninth place in the 100 IM. Lucas Farmer added a fifth place in the 50 back and a ninth in the 50 fly. Josh Inouye placed eighth in the 50 free as well.
The 13-14 boys were anchored by the sixth place 200 medley relay team of A. J. Donovan, Chris Carmagnola, Trevor Phelps and Jackson Berigan. As a group they scored over 160 points. A. J. Donovan was second in 50 free and 50 fly and third in 50 back. Chris Carmagnola took 11th in the 50 back, 13th in the 50 free and 19th in the 50 butterfly. Trevor Phelps was right on Carmagnola’s heels finishing 12th in the 100 IM, 14th in the 100 free and 19th in 50 breast. Jackson Berigan scored points in all three of his individual events with a 16th in the 50 breast, and 21st place in the 100 IM and 100 free.
The 13-14 girls made a solid showing as well, scoring more than 175 points as a group. Having a little more depth than the 13-14 boys, this group was led by Elizabeth House. House was a member of the fifth place 200 medley relay team, along with Emily Farabaugh, Averi Witt and Catherine Adams. In individual events House had second place finishes in both the 100 IM and 50 free to go along with a fourth place in the 50 fly. Emily Farabaugh was seventh in 50 breast, ninth in 100 free and 11th in the 100 IM. Averi Witt was not only a member of the fifth place 200 medley relay but also the fifth place 200 free relay, adding a 17th place finish in the 50 Free and placing 18th in the 100 free. Catherine Adams was 12th in the 50 breaststroke. Aubrey Campbell and Anjali Nitzsche were also members of the fifth place 200 free relay with Witt. Campbell took 19th in the 50 back and Nitzsche was 13th in the 50 backstroke.
The 15-18 boys made a strong showing for a small group, scoring 135.5 points in the night session. Led by senior swimmer and assistant coach Ryan Mitchell, the 200 medley relay team of Mitchell, Quinn Cross, Andy Cohen and Ryan Boyce finished in seventh place, scoring 22.5 points. Mitchell also scored well in all three of his individual events. He was fifth in 50 breast, sixth in the 100 IM and seventh in 100 free. Quinn Cross was 11th in the 50 fly, 19th in the 50 back and 25th in the 50 free. Andy Cohen was 17th in the 50 fly, 22nd in the 50 back and 24th in the 100 free. Spencer Elliott also made a valuable contribution, placing 14th in the 50 breast, 19th in the 50 free and 21st in the 100 IM.
The 15-18 girls rounded out this group in strong fashion. Led by senior swimmers Anna Corley, Elsa Strickland and Maggie Rossberg, the 15-18 girls tallied 180 points, giving the Gators momentum going into the second day. Corley and Rossberg teamed up with Savannah Scarbrough and Lexi Campbell to get a huge second place finish in the 200 medley relay, scoring 25 crucial points. Scarbrough and Strickland then teamed up with Kelly Emmrich and Jesse Dugan to finish fourth in the 200 free relay, scoring 24 more points in the final event of the session.
Individually, Corley, Strickland and Campbell were sensational. Corley took second place in the 50 back, third in the 100 IM and sixth in the 50 fly. Strickland added two fourth place finishes in the 100 IM and 50 free and a fifth place in the 100 free. Campbell was fifth in the 50 back, sixth in the 50 breast and eighth in the 50 free. Swimming as a 15-year-old, Scarbrough finished 11th in the 100 free and tenth in the 50 breast to go along with her second and fourth place finishes on the relay teams. Senior Maggie Rossberg rounded out the scoring with a 17th place finish in the 50 fly.
Going into Saturday morning’s session trailing by roughly 160 points, the Gators had their work cut out for them. But the schedule seemed to work in their favor. Little did Coach Greg Remaly know it, but the next session would prove to be the most impressive of the meet for the Gators. The 8 and under boys and girls took to the pool and things made a turn for the better.
The 8 and under boys dominated the session like no other group in recent memory, winning all seven events en route to scoring more than 200 points. Anthony Garono led the way, winning the high point award. The high point award is given in every age group to the swimmer that scores more points than any other competitor in his or her age group. Garono won first place in all three of his individual events (25 free, 25 fly and 50 free) along with a first place in the 100 Medley Relay. Jack Burr, Gavin Harris and Ian Ratcliffe were the other members of the relay team. Jack Burr was also impressive, finishing first in 25 breast and fifth in 25 free. Gavin Harris won the 25 backstroke. Graham DeVito finished second in the 25 back and 50 free and was a member of the first place 100 Free Relay team. Silas Adams and Henry Addison were also members of the 100 free relay with DeVito (and Josh Nemergut). Adams added a sixth place finish in the 25 breast and Addison took fifth place in the 25 fly. Coach Remaly was extremely proud of the group, saying, “They set the tone for the rest of the day and got us on a roll.”
The 8 and under girls proved to be a strong unit as well, scoring nearly 180 points to catapult the Gators into first place at the close of the session, giving Crozet a 64-point lead going into the final session of the meet.
The girls started off the session with a third place in the 100 medley relay following the boys big first place win in the same event. The team of Julie Addison, Kayliegh Long, Megan Life and Lillie Scheivert fed off of the boys’ momentum and carried it on. Kayliegh Long took second in the 25 fly, third in 25 free and ninth in 25 breast. Megan Life placed fourth in both the 25 back and 25 fly, along with sixth place in the 50 free. Julie Addison logged a third, fifth and seventh in the 25 back, 25 free and 50 free, while Lillie Scheivert was also a part of the seventh place 100 free relay and finished 14th in the 25 breast.
These remarkable seven and eight year olds paved the way for the rest of the day, giving the Gators a huge momentum swing, but more importantly, the belief that they could actually win the meet. Coach Remaly was disappointed (as was the entire team) in the regular season loss to Fairview by a mere 10 points, but his belief that the Gators could win at championships was reinforced by the 7 and 8 year olds strong showing and became contagious. The Gators rolled into Saturday afternoon with confidence and maybe just a little swagger.
The final session included the 9-10 girls, 11-12 boys and 11-12 girls. Again, the schedule seemed to benefit the Gators, as these were three really solid, consistent groups of swimmers. And that’s just what the Gators would need to hold on for victory. Not only did each group give a strong performance, but the 11-12 year old boys set a new JSL Championship record with a time of 2:08.21 in the 200 medley relay. Coach Remaly was visibly excited as he made the announcement at the team banquet and awards ceremony July 28. “That’s the fastest 11-12 year old boys 200 medley relay that any group of kids has EVER swam at the championship meet,” he said.
The 9-10 girls were quite possibly the best group for the whole meet. Led by Maya Chatterson’s high point award performance, the 9-10 girls scored over 200 points, giving the Gators the boost they needed. Chatterson took first place in the 100 IM and the 100 free, plus a second place finish in the 50 fly and 200 free relay. Sophie O’Donnell, Sterling Hull and Katie Klein were her relay teammates. O’Donnell finished in the top five of all three of her individual events with third in 50 back, fifth in 50 free and fifth in 50 breast. Sterling Hull was eighth in 50 breast and also a member of the first place 200 medley relay team along with Sydney Dutton, Kathryn Burr and Emily Sposato. Dutton won the 50 backstroke and finished fourth in the 100 IM. Kathryn Burr had a great meet also, winning the 50 fly, placing second in 50 free and third in the 100 free.
The 11-12 boys weren’t to be out done, racking up over 200 points of their own. Jason Heilman led the charge with second place finishes in all three of his individual events (50 free, 50 fly, 100 free) to go along with being a member of the first place 200 Medley Relay team. Evan Sposato, Ricky Weikle and Max Tracey joined Heilman on the winning relay team. Evan Sposato backed Heilman up with two third place finishes (50 breast, 50 back) and a fourth place in the 100 IM. Max Tracey added a ninth in the 50 back and a 13th in 50 free. Andrew Holzwarth was also a major contributor. Holzwarth, Angelo Garono, Zach Bowen and Benton Turner took fifth place in the 200 free relay and Holzwarth scored in all three of his individual events. He finished sixth in the 50 breast and eighth in the 50 fly and the 100 IM.
The 11-12 girls scored nearly 200 points and helped the Gators seal the deal. Led by Colleen Farabaugh, the 11-12 girls finished second in the 200 medley relay. Katie Herndon, Teryn Ratcliffe and Meredith Martin swam the other three legs of the relay to earn the Gators 25 huge points. Farabaugh, Herndon and Ratcliffe all scored in each of their three individual events. Farabaugh took second in the 50 breast and 100 free, as well as fourth in 50 free. Herndon was third in the 100 free, fourth in the 50 fly and sixth in the 50 free. Teryn Ratcliffe was solid, finishing fourth in the 100 IM, fifth in 50 fly and seventh in 50 backstroke.
When the final tally came in, the Gators had edged Fairview by 28 points. This was truly an historic moment. After watching Fairview win year in and year out for more than two decades, it was time for a new champion. This is a win not only for the Gators Swim Team but the community as well. There is a lot to be proud of for everyone who has been involved over the years. Coach Greg Remaly read a message from his father, former head coach Doc Remaly (now living in Colorado), at the team banquet. The emotion was palpable as Greg read the heartfelt message. Doc was proud of his son, the kids and also of the fact that what he started had come to fruition. Doc was instrumental in laying the foundation of what has become a highly successful program.
Those involved with the Gators who have only been around for a few years might not quite grasp the emotion and magnitude of this accomplishment. The Crozet Gator community has been chasing this dream for a decade or more and to see it actually happen is AWESOME!!! A lot of time, energy, sweat and tears have gone into this effort. Now those who have invested so much can reap the benefits. It also couldn’t be any sweeter for the senior swimmers. Congratulations to Anna Corley, Elsa Strickland, Maggie Rossberg, Colleen Flanagan, Quinn Cross and Ryan Mitchell.
This story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning two of the most dedicated and committed people known to anyone close to the Gator swim team, Nana Corley and Cynthia Simpson. Corley has been a part of Crozet swimming for more than three decades and has served in just about every capacity and tirelessly all along the way. Cynthia has poured about as much energy into this organization as a person could over the last decade and a half. Thank you ladies, and thank you Gators. This is the stuff dreams are made of!