Taking a Capital challenge: Amid COVID-19-powered changes, local swims take pride in racing

The Capital City Swim League has a rich tradition of large crowds and fast times. Could it be possible to have one without the other?

A two-part season-opening meet held Saturday at the Crawfish Aquatics pool provided answers to that question and many others.

Some things predictable — like perennial powers Catholic High (433 points) and St. Joseph’s Academy (292 points) —winning team titles. There were some fast early-season times too.

But with an almost empty pool deck and no fans in the bleachers because of coronavirus pandemic concerns, the sounds of coaching yelling instructions and the voice of the starter signaling each race carried above all else, offering yet another sign of these COVID-19 times.

“It’s been different with the social distancing stuff,” Dutchtown’s Cody Hurst said. “But this is the first time I have been able to race since high school state meet last November, so I was ready. For a while, it looked like we might not be able to have a season.

“So, I’ll take this any day. I wanted it so bad. It is quiet without having the boys and girls teams together and fans. There are protocols to follow, but I think we are all willing to do all of it just to have a season.”

Some differences were striking. Boys and girls teams competed in separate sessions divided by a period that allowed Crawfish staff to sanitize the pool deck area. Parent volunteers who normally provide back-up hand times gained an additional responsibility – sanitizing the starting blocks after the start of each race.

There were no relays in this meet as staff worked to ensure things ran smoothly. Only one heat at a time was allowed behind the blocks. Swimmers in the next heat stood in socially distanced small boxed marked by tape in an adjacent hallway. They were brought onto the pool deck after the previous heat exited at the opposite end of the pool.

Teams and coaches sat just outside the pool deck in outdoor bleachers, waiting for heats to be called. Swimmers were not allowed to do warmups and warm downs immediately before or after races before of restrictions.

“I had an idea what would happen because Crawfish had a meet like this a few weeks ago,” said Parkview Baptist’s Rylee Moore. “This is not what I expected for my senior year.

“I have competed in high school meets since I was middle school. For me, this isn’t just another year. Compete with my high school teammates one last time means a lot. We need to do the right things so we can continue to race.”

Moore, Maddilyn Geyer of University and Baton Rouge High’s Emma Lavigne were all double winners in the girls meet. Moore’s time of 1 minute, 0.46 seconds in the 100-yard butterfly and Geyer’s mark of 1:02.10 in the 100 backstroke were highlights.

A 50 freestyle in which the top five swimmers also finished below 24 seconds was a huge highlight during the boys meet. Mitchell Gillem won the race in a sizzling 22.24 seconds. The Bears’ Joseph Duncan (200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke) was the only boys double winner.

“We’re probably going to be a little sore tomorrow because we couldn’t do the warmups or warm downs like we usually do,” Baton Rouge High’s Sam Hall said. “But I woke early. I definitely couldn’t wait to race.”

Capital City Swim League

At Crawfish Aquatics pool

Girls

Team totals: 1, St. Joseph’s Academy 292. 2, Baton Rouge High 224. 3, University 189. 4, Dutchtown 144. 5, Parkview Baptist 130. 6, Denham Springs 48. 7, Live Oak 32. 8, Brusly 30, Ascension Christian 30.

Top individuals

200-yard freestyle: 1, Rylee Moore, PBS, 2:01.08. 2, Helen Wang, BRHS, 2:12.52. 3, Stella Carmouche, Dutchtown, 2:14.44.

200 individual medley: 1, Maddilyn Geyer, University, 2:13.43. 2, Mary Nummy, Dutchtown, 2:19.63. 3, Anna Guidroz, SJA, 2:38.30.

50 freestyle: 1, Helen Wang, BRHS, 26.94. 2, Ella Dailey, Dutchtown, 27.21. 3, Leah Magee, BRHS, 28.53.

100 butterfly: 1, Rylee Moore, PBS, 1:00.46. 2, Mary Nummy, Dutchtown, 1:04.94. 3, Elia Achberger, BRHS, 1:05.43.

100 freestyle: 1, Ema Lavigne, BRHS, 56.49. 2, Elia Dailey, Dutchtown, 59.90. 3, Leah Magee, BRHS, 1:02.57.

500 freestyle: 1, Elia Achberger, BRHS, 5:45.03. 2, Kayda Geyer, University. 6:02.24. 3, Claire Lofland,. SJA, 6:18.58.

100 backstroke: 1, Maddilyn Geyer, University, 1:02.10. 2, Stella Carmouche, Dutchtown, 1:08.11. 3, Alyssa Pentas, PBS, 1:08.83.

100 breaststroke: 1, Ema Lavigne, BRHS, 1:12.58. 2, Kayda Geyer, University, 1:19.42. 3, Heidi Feng, BRHS, 1:21.29.

Boys

Team totals: 1, Catholic 433. 2, Baton Rouge High 262. 3, University 129. 4, Dutchtown 113. 5, Denham Springs 53. 6, Parkview Baptist 20. 7, Brusly 12. 8, Live Oak 6. 9, Ascension Christian 3.

Top individuals

200-yard freestyle: 1, Christopher Richardson, University, 1:44.45. 2, William DeJean, Catholic, 1:49.08. 3, William Kitto IV, Catholic, 1:51.78.

200 individual medley: 1, Joseph Duncan, Catholic, 2:02.47. 2, Owen Leblanc, Dutchtown, 2:03.42. 3, Brooks Moore, Parkview, 2:06.78.

50 freestyle: 1, Mitchell Gillem, Catholic, 22.24. 2, Sammy Smith, Catholic, 23.34. 3, Jeffery Talbot, Catholic, 23.72, Adam Werth, Catholic, 23.72.

100 butterfly: 1, Garrett Accardo, Catholic, 54.37. 2, Christopher Richardson, University, 54.60. 3, Stewart Black, Catholic, 54.79.

100 freestyle: 1,William DeJean, Catholic, 48.95. 2, Mitchell Gillem, Catholic, 49.95. 3, William Kitto IV, Catholic, 51.73.

500 freestyle: 1, Will Cooper, Catholic, 4:59.34. 2, Tomas Galvez, BRHS, 5:01.55. 3, Alex Cooper, Catholic, 5:26.98.

100 backstroke: 1, Stewart Black, Catholic, 56.71. 2, Owen Rodrigue, University, 58.30. 3, Antoni Staszkiewicz, BRHS, 59.58

100 breaststroke: 1, Joseph Duncan, Catholic, 1:01.68. 2, Brooks Moore, PBS, 1:02.17. 3, Owen Leblanc, Dutchtown, 1:02.74.

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