2020 Metro Championships
“What’s in the water at Stone Ridge?”
That’s the question swim fans from throughout the country must be asking about the Catholic school in Bethesda, Maryland. Its most iconic graduate is Katie Ledecky, whose swimming bona fides need no explanation. But a new chapter in the school’s swimming story was written at Saturday night’s “Metros” meet. The Gators accomplished something that eluded even Ledecky: a team championship. And they did so on the shoulders of two swimmers in particular.
Phoebe Bacon, a senior, notched a spot in swimming history by swimming 50.89, demolishing the national high school record she’d set in the 100 backstroke two weeks earlier (see her swim here and see her interview with SwimSwam here). And a freshman on the team, Erin Gemmell, delivered several commanding performances – positioning herself as the school’s next national standout.
Metros is consistently one of the fastest high school meets in the country – with highly accomplished swimmers energized by wildly enthusiastic fans. Not only did Ledecky swim there, but so have several other notables, including 2016 Olympian Jack Conger (Good Counsel), who broke both the 100 and 500 free national high school records on the same night in 2013. This year was no different.
In the first event, the 200 medley relay, both the winning boys (Georgetown Prep) and the girls (Stone Ridge) broke Metros records, with the boys going 1:31.70 (Brett Feyerick led off with a 22.66 back leg) and the girls going 1:41.62 (Bacon led off with a 23.86 back leg). See the boys race here and the girls race here.
Later, in the 200 free relay, Stone Ridge finished in 1:34.47 – taking nearly a second off an eight-year old meet record (see the race here). Gemmell’s anchor split was a speedy 22.63. And Gonzaga won the boys race in 1:24.64, just missing the meet record. Bernasek closed out the race with a 20.47 leg. (Gonzaga would also win the team title, by nearly 100 points, over last year’s champion, Georgetown Prep.)
In the 400 free relay, Stone Ridge won by nearly five seconds (3:25.04), and the night before in prelims the quartet had lowered the meet record (set last year by Stone Ridge) by more than a second (3:24.25). Bacon’s closing split was 48.51. Georgetown Prep won on the boys side (3:05.84), and Feyerick closed with a 44.50 split.
Bacon and Gemmell aside (more on them momentarily), there were several other blazing swims. The senior winners were:
- Jacob Rosner (Landon), a Northwestern commit, 200 free (1:38.14) and the 500 free (4:28.47)
- Noah Rutberg (Churchill), a North Carolina commit, 200 IM (1:50.24)
- Ollie Bernasek (Gonzaga), a Notre Dame commit, 50 free (21.07)
- Matthew Pottker (Gonzaga), 100 fly (49.08), by a sliver over Chris Ma (49.09)
- Catherine Belyakov (Quince Orchard), a Duke commit, won the 100 breast (1:02.48)
The swimming bench is always deep in the DC area, and this year’s Metros reinforced that tradition. The non-senior winners were:
- Maren Conze, a freshman (Walter Johnson), 500 free (4:47.09)
- Carly Sebring, a sophomore (Damascus), 50 free (23.26), for the second year in a row
- Abby Carr, a junior (Washington Christian Academy), 100 fly (54.32), for the second year in a row, with Sebring finishing second
- Brett Feyerick, a junior (Georgetown Prep) 100 free (45.15) (see the race here) and, for the second straight year, 100 back (48.16) (see the race here)
- Dylan Danaie, a junior (Georgetown Prep) 100 breast (56.20)
But the most impressive underclassman was Gemmell. In addition to her relay swims, she won the 100 free (49.56) and the 200 free (1:45.96) (see the 100 here and the 200 here). While it seems inevitable that she will take down the Metros record in the 100 (Caroline McTaggart’s 48.75), it now seems entirely possible that at some point before she finishes her high school career she will also do something that many swim fans thought wouldn’t happen for long, long time: take down Ledecky’s national high school record in the 200 free (1:41.55). And if Gemmell’s name sounds familiar, it’s because her father – Bruce – was Ledecky’s coach at Nation’s Capital before she decamped for Stanford.
As for Bacon, she also won the 200 IM (see race here) in a record-setting time (1:55.39) – albeit a record she set last year (1:57.31). She will be attending the University of Wisconsin the fall – where she’ll be coached by Yuri Suguiyama. (He also has a strong Ledecky connection, having coached her in the run-up to her first gold medal, in 2012, before decamping to UC-Berkeley for an assistant coaching position.) Bacon is sure to thrive under Suguiyama, but right now she has her sights set on Olympic Trials, where she is one of the leading contenders to make the U.S. team. She’ll face extremely stiff competition (women’s backstroke may be more dominant than any other stroke for men or women) but with her Metros swim on Saturday night, her high school legacy is secure.