VERGENNES — A couple hundred adults, teens and younger children relaxed on a balmy summer evening at the Vergennes city pool Tuesday, when also the Vergennes Champs swim team hosted the Middlebury Panthers.
The guest Panthers ended up on top, 251-218, as seven swimmers won at least two races. Overall, however, the relaxed atmosphere and the chance for all involved to be outside together at the pool chatting in lawn chairs or visiting and playing with their friends between races — at one point a group of young Panthers spent a minute chasing a flying beetle around — probably prevailed.
Those parents and relatives not simply lounging are happy to help out, said first-year Vergennes coach Kaitlyn Evarts, an accomplished former Champs team member who returned to help younger swimmers develop.
“It’s an awesome atmosphere. We have really great parent support. They volunteer for timing and concessions and scoring and bullpen, and about everything,” Evarts said.
There are plenty of parents to draw from — Vergennes, the smallest community in the eight-team Champlain Valley Swim League, has more than 100 swimmers this summer, and home meets are an event.
“We have 114 swimmers on the roster this year,” Evarts said. “For little Vergennes to have that many swimmers is kind of cool.”
The Panthers’ roster is also growing, said co-coach Casey O’Donohue, who heads the team with another former Panther swimmer, Lauren Brady, with more help from Middlebury College swim coach Peter Solomon, who is working with the younger Panther swimmers.
O’Donohue said she and Brady are enjoying seeing the team thrive while the swimmers learn and enjoy themselves.
“Some of these kids we even swam with, so it’s really exciting to see them start out at such a young age and then still go through the whole program. And it’s been really nice that the program is growing. Peter has been doing a real great job with that, too, getting the cub program going,” she said.
The team clearly has fun. At one point, Solomon told Brady and O’Donohue he was bringing his “ducklings” to get ready for the next set of races, and the 6-, 7- and 8-year-olds lined up behind him and started quacking. And like the Champs, the Panthers cheer for each other and make sure to shake hands afterward.
“The team is really supportive of each other. It’s so fun to see everyone line up at the end shouting, ‘Go, go,’ to whoever is swimming,” O’Donohue said. “It’s really good to see.”
Beyond the competition — and, make no mistake, both teams have accomplished swimmers capable of competing for league and state titles in the coming weeks — the coaches said a major point of the swim teams is teaching skills.
“I started out here in Vergennes, and it’s a great program,” Evarts said. “It’s a step up from swim lessons, almost. The progress the kids make in a year, we have kids who can’t swim a length in the beginning of the year, and in the third meet they’re swimming the full 25, and they’re racing. It’s really, really exciting to see the kids grow.”
The Panthers pulled out their 33-point victory as Chandler Devaney swept four 11- and 12-year-old boys’ races, and four Panthers won three times: 18-and-under girls’ swimmer Sarah Snider, U-14 girls’ swimmer Shiloh Solomon and U-14 boys’ swimmer Max Moulton. Two Panthers won twice, U-12 girls’ swimmer Grace Weinberg and U-8 girls’ swimmer Jade Weinberg.
For the Champs, who were missing top swimmers Paige and Amber Vincent, U-18 boys’ swimmer Austin Burnett won three times, and U-8 boys’ swimmer Jeffrey Stearns took two races.
The Champs won five of eight medley relays to take an early lead, but by the end of the second discipline, the backstroke, the Panthers had the advantage and did not surrender it. The Champs used their greater depth to win five of the eight free relays, but the Panther lead was too large by then.
Scoring points for their teams with top-three finishes in individual events were:
• U-8 girls: 1. Grace LeBeau, V, 26.01; 2. Morgan Lynk, V.
• U-8 boys: 1. J. Stearns, V, 21.80; 2. Quinn Berry, M; 3. Max Konczal, V.
• U-10 girls: 1. Annie Bolton, M, 18.56; 2. Olivia Hawkins, V; 3. Lucy Orsitti, M.
• U-10 boys: 1. Archie Milligan, M, 19.56; 2. Ethan Sausville, V; 3. Parker, Beatty, M.
• U-12 girls: 1. Courtney White, M, 33.62; 2. G. Weinberg, M; 3. Moriah Cushing, V.
• U-12 boys: 1. C. Devaney, M, 35.68; 2. Max Bicknell, V; 3. Lathrop Brownell, V.
• U-14 girls: 1. 1. Brianna Foley, M, 35.53; 2. S. Solomon, M; 3. Cassandra King, V.
• U-14 boys: 1. Josh Cook, V, 35.15; 2. Jesse Sawyer, V.
• U-18 girls: 1. S. Snider, M, 32.40; 2. Grace Pyne, M.
• U-18 boys: 1. A. Burnett, V, 35.31; 2. Nicholas Wilkerson, M.
• U-8 girls: 1. J. Weinberg, M, 23.62; 2. Mary Eastman, M; 3. Addy Brooks, V.
• U-8 boys: 1. Q. Berry, M, 23.84; 2. Gage Lalumiere, V; 3. Spencer Doran, M.
• U-10 girls: 1. Isabel Rosenberg, M, 20.43; 2. Abigail Gleason, M; 3. Munro McLaren, V.
• U-10 boys: 1. Zeke Palmer, V, 21.61; 2. Julian Schmitt, M; 3. Jacob Brookman, M.
• U-12 girls: 1. G. Weinberg, M, 33.97; 2. Harper Smith, M; 3. Alyse Beauchemin, V.
• U-12 boys: 1. C. Devaney, 38.20; 2. Devon Kimball, V; 3. Max Bicknell, V.
• U-14 girls: 1. S. Solomon, M, 37.78; 2. B. Foley, M; 3. Casey Jones, V.
• U-14 boys: 1. M. Moulton, M, 33.66; 2. Matteo Palmer, V; 3. J. Cook, V.
• U-18 girls: 1. S. Snider, M, 33.01; 2. Rebecca Johnston, V.
• U-18 boys: 1. A. Burnett, V, 36.13; 2. N. Wilkerson.
• U-8 girls: 1. J. Weinberg, M, 28.12; 2. A. Brooks, V; 3. Karyn Kenfield, V.
• U-8 boys: 1. M. Konczal, V, 25.68; 2. Jackson Hameline, V; 3. Fraser Milligan, M.
• U-10 girls: 1. O. Hawkins, V, 20.82; 2. Sadie Kass, V; 3. Caroline Kimble, M.
• U-10 boys: 1. J. Schmitt, M, 23.89; 2. A. Milligan, M, 24.62; 3. E. Sausville, V.
• U-12 girls: 1. Reubie Bolton, M, 38.72; 2. Kess Moulton, M; 3. M. Cushing, V.
• U-12 boys: 1. C. Devaney, M, 46.79; 2. D. Kimball, V; 3. L. Brownell, V.
• U-14 girls: 1. S. Solomon, M, 39.46; 2. C. Jones, V; 3. Samara Sausville, V.
• U-14 boys: 1. M. Moulton, M, 37.60; 2. M. Palmer, V; 3. J. Sawyer, V.
• U-18 girls: 1. G. Pyne, M, 36.47; 2. Mychaela Devaney, M; 3. Erika Evarts, V.
• U-18 boys: 1. N. Wilkerson, M, 55.59.
• U-8 girls: 1. M. Eastman, M, 21.20; 2. A. Brooks, V; 3. J. Weinberg, M.
• U-8 boys: 1. J. Stearns, V, 17.74; 2. Q. Berry, M; 3. Aiden Gardner, V.
• U-10 girls: 1. A. Gleason, M, 16.18; 2. O. Hawkins, V; 3. A. Bolton, M.
• U-10 boys: 1. Sam Comai, V, 15.72; 2. Z. Palmer, V; 3. P. Beatty, M.
• U-12 girls: 1. G. Weinberg, M, 29.56; 2. C. White, M; 3. A. Beauchemin, V.
• U-12 boys: 1. C. Devaney, M, 30.65; 2. M. Bicknell, V; 3. L. Brownell, V.
• U-14 girls: 1. S. Solomon, M, 30.06; 2. S. Sausville, V; 3. B. Foley, M.
• U-14 boys: 1. M. Moulton, M, 27.65; 2. M. Palmer, V; 3. J. Cook, V.
• U-18 girls: 1. S. Snider, M, 28.00; 2. G. Pyne, M; 3. R. Johnston, V.
• U-18 boys: 1. A. Burnett, V, 27.25; 2. N. Wilkerson, M.
Andy Kirkaldy is at [email protected]