Visiting Champs swim past Marlins


OLIVER PODUSCHNICK, OF the Middlebury Marlins, gets a flying start in the U-18 boys’ backstroke race against Vergennes on Tuesday. Poduschnick won three races, but the Champs won the meet. Independent photo/Steve James

VERGENNES SWIM TEAM Coach Bill Clark works with a Champs relay team on Tuesday in Middlebury. He and Marlins Coach Colleen Rueppel emphasize fun as well as technique when they work with their young swimmers. Independent photo/Steve James

MIDDLEBURY MARLINS SWIMMER Holly Staats swims the breaststroke leg of the U-18 medley relay against Vergennes on Tuesday. The Champs won most of the relays, a key factor in their overall victory. Independent photos/Steve James

VERGENNES CHAMPS SWIMMER Lauren Husk won the under-8 girls’ 25-yard breaststroke race against the Marlins in Middlebury on Tuesday. The Champs prevailed in the annual friendly rivalry. Independent photo/Steve James

MIDDLEBURY MARLINS’ SWIMMER U-14 boys’ swimmer Connor McNamara competes in the 50-yard breaststroke race against the Vergennes Champs on Tuesday. McNamara prevailed, but the Champs were the overall winners. Independent photo/Steve James

MIDDLEBURY — Tuesday’s scoresheets show the visiting Vergennes Champs defeated the Middlebury Marlins, 275-203, in the annual duel between the friendly Champlain Valley Swim League rivals.

Many swimmers had big days. Under-10 Champs swimmer Will Clark won another three races, as did U-8 Marlin Aurora Foley, U-14 Marlin Aiden Chance and U-18 Marlin Oliver Poduschnick. 

Three Champs won two races apiece: Grey Fearon, Gavin Conrad and Jordan Jewell. Three Marlins joined them as double winners: Constantin Bellman, Ava Schneider and Natalie Rockwell.

The Champs are a deeper, more balanced team, and earned a 56-point advantage by winning 13 of 18 contested relays. Individual races were almost a stalemate. 

And, make no mistake, the Vergennes team was happy to leave the Middlebury town pool with a win. 

But in summer swimming the scores tell just part of the story. 

There were almost 140 young swimmers at the pool, plus just as many timers, coaches and relatives. Often two or three generations of family members were there to support the young swimmers in a healthy and enjoyable activity, and all on Tuesday enjoying a hot summer evening made pleasant by a southern breeze foreshadowing an oncoming rainstorm.

Both teams have swimmers who will probably go far in the sport, and others who are there for their friends, the exercise and, yes, the fun. The head coaches and their assistants strike a balance in 7 a.m. practices for the 72 Marlins and 110 Champs.

“It’s been a really fun season,” said Marlin head coach Colleen Rueppel, whose team has won just once, but has been competitive with larger Chittenden County squads and consistently shows enthusiasm. “They’re having a lot of fun. We do a lot of fun things at practice. We’re all about team spirit and sportsmanship.”

The approach, plus some technical advice, has paid off with solid results and strong times in losses to larger teams like the Champs and Burlington Tennis Club. 

“This is the fastest we’ve swam. We came really close to BTC, which has never happened before in my five years. So we have a lot of fun,” Rueppel said. “We’re just encouraging the swimmers, showing them different techniques. We play music, we joke around with them. We like to be really loud. Little things like that help them want to wake up in the morning.”

Champ assistant coach Bill Clark likes to measure success for his 5-2 team by overall time improvement as well as enjoyment. Last year Clark set, and the team met, a goal of 800 seconds of collective time dropped. This year he upped the goal to 900 seconds, and he expects the Champs to meet, or come close to, that goal by this Thursday. 

“It’s been a good year for us this year. We’ve had lots of time dropped,” Clark said.

He has promised the Champs a Snow Cone party this Thursday if they near the goal, as part of the annual night swim with which the team celebrates the end of the regular season. The Champs have also added a mascot on the deck of their home meets this season, all part of the goal of making participation fun.

For the older swimmers, the team sponsors an annual trip to Hampton Beach in New Hampshire. The team is also tie-dying t-shirts next week to wear to the CVSL league meet, which Middlebury will host on July 26 and 27.

 “We’re having a lot of fun,” Clark said. “Our focus is really almost as much on the fun as it is on the competitive swimming piece, keeping the practices fun and making sure the kids feel really well supported, that they really love their coaches. That’s what really keeps them coming back.”

Champs and Marlins who scored points for their teams in individual events on Tuesday were:

BUTTERFLY

• U-8 girls: 1. A. Foley, M, 20.88; 2. Mitzi Poduschnick, M; 3. Lauren Husk, V.

• U-8 boys: 1. C. Bellman, M, 20.38; 2. Flint Crary, V; 3. Connor Husk, V.

• U-10 girls: 1. Ella Bearor, V, 18.89; 2. Sadie Chance, M; 3. Adrienne Smits, V.

• U-10 boys: 1. Clark Crary, V, 19.16; 2. Quinn LeBeau, V; 3. Daniel Power, M.

• U-12 girls: 1. A. Schneider, M, 33.32; 2. Lucy Poduschnick, M.

• U-12 boys: 1. G. Fearon, V, 46.63; 2. Maxwell Goodfellow, V.

• U-14 girls: 1. Madelyn Giroux, 31.88; 2. Carlyn Rapoport, V; 3. N. Rockwell, M.

• U-14 boys: 1. A. Chance, M, 31.00; 2. Connor McNamara, M.

• U-18 girls: 1. J. Jewell, V, 32.45; 2. Holly Staats, M; 3. Sydney Jewell, V.

• U-18 boys: 1. Fraser Milligan, M, 27.82; 2. Nathan Stone, M; 3. Noah Engvall, M.

BACKSTROKE

• U-8 girls: A. Foley, M, 22.78; 2. Jordan Hutchins, V; 3. Cora Conrad, V.

• U-8 boys: 1. Paul Foley, M, 24.58; 2. Skylar James, V; 3. Reed Allen, M.

• U-10 girls: 1. Isabella Romond, V, 20.83; 2. E. Bearor, V; 3. Eleanor Orten, M.

• U-10 boys: 1. W. Clark, V, 17.95; 2. Cohen Howell, V; 3. Isaiah Robinson, M.

• U-12 girls: 1. L. Poduschnick, M, 38.76; 2. Emma Morrissey, M; 3. Elise Parker, V.

• U-12 boys: 1. Gavin Conrad, V, 44.37; 2. Julian Potter, V.

• U-14 girls: 1. N. Rockwell, M, 34.82; 2. Frances Eckels, V; 3. Siobhan Parker, V.

• U-14 boys: 1. A. Chance, M, 34.50; 2. P. Stone, M.

• U-18 girls: 1. Anna Rakowski, V, 33.28; 2. Karyn Kenfield, V. 

• U-18 boys: 1. O. Poduschnick, M, 29.12; 2. F. Milligan, M; 3. Dylan Rapoport, V. 

BREASTSTROKE

• U-8 girls: 1. M. Poduschnick, M, 22.95; 2. J. Hutchins, V; 3. Reese Muzzy, V.

• U-8 boys: 1. C. Bellman, M, 23.93; 2. Flint Crary, V; 3. Connor Husk, V.

• U-10 girls: 1. Eloise Eckels, V, 21.79; 2. Sophia James, V; 3. S. Chance, M.

• U-10 boys: 1. W. Clark, V, 20.65; 2. Noah Smits, V; 3. I. Robinson, M. 

• U-12 girls: 1. Kaitlyn Sulik-Doty, M, 40.89; 2. A. Schneider, M; 3. Sophia Johnson, V.

• U-12 boys: 1. G. Conrad, V, 50.41; 2. G. Fearon, V.

• U-14 girls: 1. C. Rapoport, V, 34.52; 2. M. Giroux, V; 3. Catherine Carpenter, M.

• U-14 boys: 1. C. McNamara, M, 37.50; 2. Gideon Palmer, V.

• U-18 girls: 1. H. Staats, M, 35.65; 2. S. Jewell, V; 3. J. Jewell, V.

• U-18 boys: 1. O. Poduschnick, M, 30.64; 2. Will Carpenter, M; 3. N. Engvall, V.

FREESTYLE

• U-8 girls: 1. A. Foley, M, 17.77; 2. M. Poduschnick, M; 3. J. Hutchins, V.

• U-8 boys: 1. F. Crary, V, 16.64; 2. C. Husk, V; 3. C. Bellman, M.  

• U-10 girls: 1. A. Smits, V, 16.13; 2. E. Bearor; 3. Louisa Orten, M.

• U-10 boys: 1. W. Clark, 14.66; 2. C. Howell, V; 3. D. Powell, M.

• U-12 girls: 1. A. Schneider, M, 30.90; 2. E. Morrissey, M; 3. S. Johnson, V.

• U-12 boys: 2. G. Fearon, V, 35.07; 2. G. Conrad, V; 3. Gabe Schmidt, M. 

• U-14 girls: 1. N. Rockwell, M, 29.18; 2. C. Rapoport, V; 3. M. Giroux, V.

• U-14 boys: 1. A. Chance, M, 28.38; 2. C. McNamara, M; 3. G. Palmer, V.

• U-18 girls: 1. J. Jewell, V, 28.88; 2. A. Rakowski, V; 3. H. Staats, M.

• U-18 boys: 1. O. Poduschnick, M, 23.96; 2. F. Milligan, M; 3. N. Engvall, V. 

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