For 11 young Water Rat swimmers, the opportunity to compete in a national championship is the reward for untold hours of training, followed by stellar performances in high-pressure qualifying meets. It’s a test of skill and determination, against hundreds of other top-ranked swimmers from across the country. It’s a chance to make your teammates, family and local community proud.
The Water Rats did all that, and more, at the 2014 YMCA Short Course National Championship
, held Apr. 1-4, at the Greensboro Aquatics Center in Greensboro, N.C.
Overall, the Westport Weston Family Y Water Rat Swim Team finished 11th out of 75 teams, with the Men's Team placing 6th. That's a significant improvement over last year's results, when the men finished in 34th place. It was the greatest year-over-year improvement for any team swimming at the meet this year.
“We had a tremendous meet in Greensboro,” says Ellen Johnston, Head Coach of the 200-member Water Rat Swim Team. “When the teams you are competing against have two to three times the number of swimmers on their squads, our results are extremely impressive.”
“The team has been focused on this meet since 2013, and everything throughout the year helped prepare us to step and be a strong force,” adds Johnston, who, along with Assistant Coach Frisk Driscoll, accompanied the young swimmers on the 6-day trip to Y Nationals.
Johnston also commented on the squad’s dynamics: “Our team was comprised of 10 young men and one woman, Sarah Grinalds, who, at 13, also happened to be one of the youngest swimmers in the meet. Sarah (right
) held her own and stepped up swimming more like a seasoned veteran than a rookie, almost making the finals in the 100 Freestyle with another personal best. The support each swimmer gave to their teammates was impressive and is also an important aspect of our success.”
Individual swimmers scoring points for the Water Rats at Y Nationals:
• Jonathan Blansfield placed 2nd in the 500 Freestyle, 2nd in the 1000 Freestyle, and 9th in the 1650 Freestyle.
• Bryce Keblish placed 3rd in the 100 Butterfly, 7th in the 200 Freestyle, 10th in the 200 Individual Medley, and 12th in the 100 Breaststroke.
• Tommy Gannon placed 13th in the 200 Breaststroke.
• Daniel Williams placed 14th in the 1650 Freestyle and 16th in the 1000 Freestyle.
The Water Rat relay teams excelled during the meet, contributing significantly to the team's point totals.
The team of Keblish, Gannon, Jake Hoin and Justin Summers placed 6th in the 200 Freestyle Relay, while the team of John Whiteside, Gannon, Keblish and Summers finished 6th in the 200 Yard Medley Relay after having to "swim off" against a team from South Carolina who they were tied with after the preliminary heats to qualify for the championship final.
In the 400 Yard Medley Relay, Whiteside, Gannon, Keblish and Summers finished 10th, while the 400 Freestyle relay team of Keblish, Gannon, Hoin and Summers brought the Water Rats a 10th place finish as well. The 800 Freestyle Relay team of Keblish, Blansfield, Gannon and Summers swam to a 12th place finish.
The Water Rat Swim Team is a year-round, nationally recognized competitive swim program organized and operated by the Aquatics Department of the Westport Weston Family Y. The team competes in Y competition at the local level through dual meets and at the state and national level.
The team is also a registered USA Swimming Team sanctioned by Connecticut Swimming, Inc. and competes in USA competitive swimming at the local, regional, state, zone and national level. Open tryouts for new swimmers are held every September.
For more information about the Water Rats, please visit www.westporty.org/wrats
Pictured below are the Y "Nat Rats": front row (l to r) Justin Summers, Chris Mombello, Ethan Hunter, Michael Deluca; middle row Jake Hoin, Sarah Grinalds, Jonathan Blansfield, John Whiteside, Head Coach Ellen Johnston; back row Tommy Gannon, Bryce Keblish, Daniel Williams, and Assistant Coach Frisk Driscoll.