A lot has changed in the two years since the last Fort Wayne City Swim Meet was held in 2019.
But not everything: at the conclusion of the meet Sunday at the Helen P. Brown Natatorium, Pine Valley Country Club once again took a celebratory plunge after claiming the overall combined team title with 2,196.50 points. It was the sixth straight time Pine Valley has claimed the City Swim title.
Pine Valley also finished atop the girls standings with 1,360.50 points. Orchard Ridge Country Club was a relatively close second place in the combined standings at 2,077.50 after leading the boys standings with 1,275.50 points. Pocahontas Swim Club took third place overall, finishing third among the girls teams and second among the boys.
Although the city meet is usually a massive all-ages event, this year the meet was split into five sessions, one for each age group, to allow for more social distancing on the pool deck and in the stands. So when the Pine Valley coaches jumped into the pool after raising the trophy, they were only surrounded by their 11- and 12-year-old athletes, who were the last to swim Sunday afternoon.
“This was kind of a big moment for them once they came in. Some of them didn't know the scores coming in, and some of them did, and then they read them off at the beginning (of the session), so they all knew then,” said Kahler Goldsmith, who was coaching in his first city championship as Pine Valley's head coach. “I was actually impressed. They did not let it get to them, the younger kids. They didn't seem like it was weighing on them too much. They really seemed to rise to the occasion really well.”
Although he is on a different team, Goldsmith said that one of the most enjoyable moments of the weekend was watching Finn Brooks of the Pocahontas Swim Club set the meet record in the 100-meter individual medley. Brooks, who recently graduated from Concordia and committed to Indiana last August, won in 57.09 seconds, beating runner-up Adam McCurdy of Autumn Ridge Swim Team by nearly five seconds.
“This is my last meet of the summer, my last City Swim,” Brooks said after winning the 50 free early in the meet. “I'm just trying to go out and go fast, trying to attempt to break some records today. ... Poco has basically been my second home. I really love the pool. It's not the nicest pool, but it's got great people, and it's a great environment.”
Brooks also won the 50 butterfly in his age group, and thus scored 60 points, making him the high-point winner for his age group. Five other swimmers scored 60 points for their respective teams during the weekend: Jazzy Morris of Pine Valley (8 and under girls), Austin Young of Pine Valley (8 and under boys), Josie Trent of Arlington Park (9-10 girls), Rohen Sievers of Orchard Ridge (9-10 boys) and Hayden Lynam of Orchard Ridge (13-14 boys).
The other age-group high-point winners (each of whom scored 57 points) were Maris Williams of Autumn Ridge (11-12 girls), Benjamin Lopez of Orchard Ridge (11-12 boys), Addy Burrough of Pine Valley (13-14 girls) and Ripley Merritt of Orchard Ridge (15-and-over girls).
“I'm so happy. I love our team so much, and I'm so excited,” Merritt said after accepting her high-point award flanked by teammate Morgan Brown, who scored 50 points in the Sunday morning 15 and over session.
“It helps you race so much easier,” Brown said after Merritt noted that the atmosphere at the pool was exciting and loud, even if only one age group was allowed in at one time.
The teammates agreed that the highlight of the day was the very first event, the 200 medley relay, which they won with teammates Addison Knoblauch and Maggie Steward in a time of 2:03.54.
“We were all cheering for each other, and actually our (B) team was in the same lane before us, so we were all cheering for each other, together,” Merritt said.