Sports

Undefeated Vergennes Champs having fun

THE VERGENNES CHAMPS are having a fun summer, not only dropping time and enjoying each other’s company, but compiling an undefeated record with two meets to go. Pictured are, L to R, Coach Pat Foley, Coach Jeremy Ouimette, Swimmer Anna Rakowski, Coach Bill Clark, Coach Mitch Howell, and Coach Addie Brooks. Independent photo/Steve James

ESSEX — The Vergennes Champs on Thursday, July 15, remained unbeaten in Champlain Valley Swim League action by topping host Essex, 278-172.

The 5-0 Champs were scheduled to host Middlebury on Tuesday, but persistent thunder and lightning forced postponement of that meet with their friendly local rivals to Thursday, July 27.

Swimmers from both teams had just completed their warm-ups when they had to clear the Vergennes pool’s deck after the first thunderclap.

But the postponement did little to dampen the Champs’ enthusiasm about their summer.

They are probably one meet away from meeting the team’s annual Sno-Cone challenge, which this year meant dropping a collective 1,000 seconds from their times over the course of the summer, thus earning a team-wide Sno-Cone party; their roster felt less of an impact from the pandemic than other Champlain Valley Swim League teams; and, yes, they are winning.

Bill Clark, one of five Champ co-coaches, said the undefeated record, including knocking off seven-time CVSL champ Edge, has come as a surprise.

“We don’t know what to make of it other than to be happy that this is happening,” Clark said.

“Some of it is based on the fact we came out of the pandemic stronger than some of the other teams, but a lot of it is just a mystery to us, and we’re not sure what to point to as a cause. But we’re just happy that it is where it is. We have the potential of winning all of our meets this summer. I don’t want to jinx us, but it’s a possibility.”

Certainly, some of it is due to the team’s numbers. Clark said the team had a surprisingly strong turnout for a 2020 season that consisted of mostly staggered practices, and then more than 100 signed up this summer, at least 30 more than the coaches expected.

He noted other teams’ turnouts, conversely, were lower. He credited the Champs’ solid 2020 and traditional team harmony.

“The momentum had a lot to do with it. I also think we have a strong sense of community around this team. And so people are really attached to the team. So as soon as we were able to open up to a somewhat normal season they were ready to come back,” Clark said.

Team veteran Anna Rakowski, 18, echoed one of Clark’s points. Rakowski was asked why she still swims for the Champs while many of her age peers have moved onto other summer pursuits.

“It’s kind of therapeutic just swimming, and it’s a great form of exercise,” said Rakowski, who also swims on more competitive winter teams and plans to swim for Macalaster College.

“It’s also just the community the team has had, the Vergennes team, and I’ve also been on the Middlebury swim team in the winter. A lot of my friends have been on the swim team. So I’ve met a lot of friends that way, and I have a lot of community whenever I come to practice, which is really nice.”

Rakowski also talked about bonding with younger swimmers and watching them grow and improve over the years, and the fact her younger siblings are on the team.

Certainly, Clark said, the Champs have enjoyed the summer for any number of reasons.

“It’s been a fun season. I think it’s the first chance these guys have had in a long time to do sports in a way that doesn’t feel COVID-restricted,” Clark said. “That’s been fun not to have that in the back of our minds the whole time.”

ESSEX MEET

On the 15th the Champs and Essex were restricted to four lanes in the Essex pool for safety reasons. Other lanes have been determined to be too shallow for competition. Swimmers also started in the water and did not dive. The Essex team’s remaining meets will be away from home.

CVSL times are also usually calculated in yards, but the available lanes were 25 meters, according to Champ officials. They used a program to convert older swimmers’ 50-meter times to yards, but younger swimmers’ winning times are based on meters, they said.

The Champs took an early lead by winning six out of seven medley relays, and they also prevailed in five of nine freestyle relays.

Paul Foley, Aurora Foley and Flint Crary all won three races to lead Vergennes, while Juliette Angier, Will Clark and Frances Eckels were double winners.

Champs scoring points for their team with top-three finishes in individual events were:

BUTTERFLY

• U-8 girls: 1. Gretchen Hill, 30.06; 2. Juliette Angier.

• U-10 girls: 1. Jordan Hutchins, 22.89; 2. Annika Smits.

• U-10 boys: 1. Flint Crary, 19.12.

• U-12 girls: 2. Sophia James; 3. Ella Bearor.

• U-12 boys: 2. Noah Smits; 3. Quinn LeBeau.

• U-14 girls: 2. Nola Roberts.

• U-18 girls: 1. Madelyn Giroux, 33.86.

BACKSTROKE

• U-8 girls: 1. Juliette Angier, 27.25; 2. Kendall Kittredge.

• U-8 boys: 1. Paul Foley, 23.59; 2. Enli Parillo.

• U-10 girls: 1. Aurora Foley, 19.72; 2. Annika Smits.

• U-10 boys: 1. Flint Crary, 21.25; 2. Henry Stroup.

• U-12 girls: 1. Eleanor Brooks, 37.30; 2. Sophia James.

• U-12 boys: 1. Will Clark, 33.86; 3. Cohen Howell.

• U-14 girls: 3. Elise Parker.

• U-14 boys: 1. Julian Potter, 38.58.

• U-18 girls: 1. Anna Rakowski, 32.90; 3. Frances Eckels.

• U-18 boys: 2. Calder Rakowski.

BREASTSTROKE      

• U-8 girls: 1. Juliette Angier, 29.34; 2. Kendall Kittredge.

• U-8 boys: 1. Paul Foley, 26.15.

• U-10 girls: 1. Aurora Foley, 22.43; 2. Ayla Kittredge.

• U-10 boys: 2. Skyler James.

• U-12 girls: 2. Eloise Eckels; 3. Sophia James.

• U-12 boys: 2. Noah Smits; 3. Will Clark.

• U-14 girls: 2. Sophia Johnson.

• U-14 boys: 2. Grey Fearon; 3. Peter Maneen.

• U-18 girls: 1. Frances Eckels, 40.12; 2. Emma Huestis, 41.19.

FREESTYLE

• U-8 girls: 1. Kendall Kittredge, 23.25; 2. Gretchen Hill.

• U-8 boys: 1. Paul Foley, 19.03; 2. Enli Parillo.

• U-10 girls: 1. Aurora Foley, 15.87; 2. Jordan Hutchins.

• U-10 boys: 1. Flint Crary, 16.28.

• U-12 girls: 1. Adrienne Smits, 28.95; 3. Isabella Romond.

• U-12 boys: 1. Will Clark, 27.98; 2. Cohen Howell.

• U-14 girls: 3. Nola Roberts.

• U-14 boys: 2. Grey Fearon; 3. Peter Maneen.

• U-18 girls: 1. Frances Eckels, 29.05; 2. Madelyn Giroux.

• U-18 boys: 3. Calder Rakowksi.

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