By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
ATLANTIC CITY — The Cape-Atlantic League Swimming Championships have always been a chance for the league’s best to show their stuff as individuals, and the 2020 championships had plenty of outstanding performances, and even a couple of new meet records. But this year featured the first time team scoring would be calculated, allowing for some new bragging rights around area pools.
The Egg Harbor Township boys and Mainland Regional girls didn’t waste the opportunity to prove that their dual-meet dominance was no fluke, as the Eagles and Mustangs rolled to team championships. On the boys side it wasn’t even close, as a few events after the break EHT had pulled out to a lead of more than 200 points. By the time the meet was over the Eagles — led by four wins from Joey Tepper — had racked up 565 points to easily win the boys team title.
Mainland was led by Katie McClintock, who set not only two meet records, but a pair of national public school marks as well. She clocked in at 2:13.76 in the 200 IM to break her own meet record of 2:15.21, set last year, and her time also was good enough for a National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association record. She also won the 100 backstroke in a NISCA-record time of 1:01.56. In addition, she teamed up with Summer Cassidy, Madeline Falk and Grace Gallagher to set a meet record in the 200 medley relay as the Mustangs beat out EHT and Ocean City, scoring 390 points to take the top spot.
EHT and Ocean City also scored more than 300 points, with the Eagles finishing second with 367 and the Red Raiders following at 305. Atlantic City (236) and Vineland (149) rounded out the top five on the girls side. On the boys side, EHT ran away with the title with 565 points while St. Augustine Prep was a distant second at 342. Mainland (293.5), Ocean City (188) and Vineland (160) filled out the top five.
“I really love my team and we’ve been doing really well this year. We’ve had a few victories that we haven’t had in a while, so we’ve been very happy with how we’ve been doing,” Tepper said. “We felt pretty good (coming into CALs), especially after going through dual meets and seeing how we stacked up against everyone else. We felt pretty confident coming into this meet.”
Tepper, the Boys Swimmer of the Meet, led the way for EHT with individual wins in the 200 IM and 400 freestyle and was part of the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams that captured first place. He was helped out by Brandon Bell, who won the 100 backstroke, and Ethan Do, who took first in the 200 free. A.J. Mallari chipped in with a first-place finish in the 100 breaststroke.
“My mindset coming in was just to swim fast and race, and see what I could do. My expectations were just to go fast times. I really wanted to be under four minutes in the 400 free, I didn’t quite get there but I was pretty close, so I’m happy with that,” Tepper said. “I actually swim really well in the middle of the season. There was one guy who would have been really close to me in a couple races but unfortunately he couldn’t make it today, and I also knew in the 200 IM I was going to have Cole Garbutt (from Mainland) right near me. He was right near me, so that was a fun race.”
Aside from McClintock’s performance, EHT had winners in the 100 butterfly with Alexandria Cotter and the 100 breaststroke, which was won by Ava McDonough. Megan Fox of Atlantic City won a pair of events while Ocean City had multiple winners, including the 200 freestyle relay team and Claudia Scherbin in the 50 free and Alex Antonov in the 100 free.
“I think we had some awesome swims. We’ve been working really hard for this and to see it all come out at CALs is a good feeling,” Scherbin said. “I didn’t have the best meet on Saturday, so I came into today trying to out-do myself from Saturday. There were some great girls and it was a competitive event, so I just put my head down and swam.”
Antonov and Scherbin were a part of that winning 200 free relay team, which was a bit of a surprise as EHT’s team came in with a slightly better seed time.
“I don’t think we expected to be first, but we knew we could do it. That was another race where we just had to put our heads down and swim, and put everything we had into the pool,” Scherbin said.
Despite finishing second to Mainland, Scherbin said she and her teammates enjoyed the new team scoring aspect of the event and that it gave everyone something extra to shoot for.
“It’s really awesome because instead of doing it individually we’re all in this together and we’re fighting for each other,” she said.
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays