In mid-November, the most talented swimmers and divers throughout the state’s Lower Peninsula will converge at three different locations to crown the absolute best-of-the-best.
A long fall season in the pool will conclude as state champions cement their spots in the record books forever.
Swim fans who made the trip to Waterford Kettering on Oct. 6 for the Oakland County Championships got a pretty good preview of what the state finals may have to offer.
“This is one of the biggest events of the season, a big deal to every girl that gets to swim here,” Bloomfield Hills Marian girls coach Bill Thompson said of the county meet, where Marian placed third out of the 27 teams that scored. “Oakland County has some of the best swimmers and divers in the entire state, and when you get a chance to get them all together, it’s something pretty special.”
“Every year, I think a meet like this takes on a greater sense of importance,” said Farmington Hills Mercy coach Shannon Dunworth, whose team won the event for the eighth consecutive year.
“Swimming is no longer a sport where you can focus solely on (the state finals),” he added. “Preparing for the type of competition something like this offers has made the entire season so much more important, and the sport so much better.”
Mercy scored a 426.5 as a team to take the county title. Rounding out the top five are Novi High (224), Marian (211), Clarkston High (188) and Lake Orion High (171).
Here’s how the rest of the county teams faired. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood (159) took sixth, followed by South Lyon High (145), Bloomfield Hills Lahser (145), Birmingham Seaholm (104), Rochester Adams (88), Waterford United (70), Beverly Hills Groves (58), Troy High (51), White Lake Lakeland (47), Walled Lake Northern (28), Farmington Hills Harrison (26), Oxford High (24.5), Farmington High (24), Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day (23), Royal Oak High (23), Bloomfield Hills Andover (22), West Bloomfield High (20), Walled Lake Western (20), Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (12), Rochester Hills Stoney Creek (10), Rochester High (4), and Berkley High (1).
“Each one of these wins is unique and special,” Dunworth said of his team’s title. “This was a very important accomplishment for this group. For us, with as much turnover on the roster as we’ve had over the years, it’s cool to see a new team go out and be able to maintain this tradition.”
And the winners are …
The Mercy team of Elliott Schinella, Hannah Knoop, Annie Valentine and Maddy Loniewski won the 200-yard medley relay in 1 minute, 50.53 seconds. In the 200 freestyle, Maddie Wright of Waterford United won in 1:55.60.
In the 200 individual medley, Clarkston’s Sami Stelpflug took first in 2:06.52. In the 50 freestyle, Novi’s Maranda Buha took first in 24.11 seconds.
Walled Lake Western’s Allie Murphy won the diving competition with a score of 440.90.
In the 100 butterfly, Wright defended her title from a year ago, winning in 55.27 seconds. She set the county record at last year’s event in 55.16 seconds.
In the 100 freestyle, Mollie Pulte of Marian set a new county record, winning in 51.42 seconds, while Mercy’s Kathleen McGee won the 500 freestyle in 5:06.22.
In the 200-freestyle relay, Mercy’s team of Loniewski, Roxanne Griffore, McGee and Schinella set a county record with their winning time of 1:38.44.
Buha took home her second title on the day by winning the 100 backstroke in 56.26 seconds, also a county record. Stelpflug then grabbed her second title, winning the 100 breaststroke in 1:06.69.
In the final event, Mercy’s 400-freestyle relay team of Griffore, Valentine, Ellyse Conn and McGee won in a time of 3:34.99.
“This was a very cool meet, as always,” Troy coach Tom Wyllie said. “There were so many talented girls, so many fast swimmers. It was fun to watch. … If you are a fan of swimming, this was a great meet to be a part of.”