In their first season as a varsity sport last year, the upstart George Mason High School swim team surprised a few teams en route to becoming one of the more potent Single A clubs in the state.
This year, however, with their name on the map and expectations higher, the squad looks to build on last year's success and compete at the state meet in February. With a plethora of veteran leaders, in addition to a few speedy youngsters, the Mustangs are poised for what should be another exciting season in the pool.
In their first meet of the season — a dual meet with Handley and Spotswood — Mason stumbled out of the gates, but, some impressive finishes against the larger AA schools lead many members of the team to believe that this season will be even better than their first.
Swimming in an unusually-sized 25 meter pool at Handley, the Mustangs adjusted well. In the first race of the day, the boys 200 medley relay team qualified for the state tournament. Freshmen Sam Butler and Will Doty, in addition to seniors Kyle Nette and Andrew Breen posted a time of 2:04:39, good enough to qualify them for the state meet in just their first match of the season.
The same relay team won the 4×50 freestyle, as well. Doty, whose times as an eighth grader last year were unable to count towards the final standings, won the 100 meter backstroke in his first official meet for the Mustangs.
Nette finished second in both the 200 meter individual medley and the 100 meter butterfly, while Butler finished second in the 50 free, with Breen right on his heels in third. The 4×100 freestyle relay team of Breen, junior Jack Cashin, sophomore Sam Parker and senior Colin Laure finished second, as well.
Overall, the boys managed to overwhelm Spotswood 113-53, building on last year's success in which they lost just one dual meet the entire year. However, they narrowly fell to John Handley High, 98-71. With senior Jeff Williams — a key part of the relays last year — absent from this meet, though, the Mustangs look to step it up for their upcoming meets.
On the girls’ side, the Mustangs were led by a pair of sophomores in Kelley Frank and Karen Hamill. Hamill posted a state-qualifying time of her own in the 50 meter freestyle in her first swim meet wearing Mason colors, finishing in 29:98.
Hamill, who was the point guard for the junior varsity basketball championship team last year, converted to the lanes this year after having competed for a number of years for a swim club team in the summer.
Frank, however, enjoyed a bounty of success last year as a freshman, finishing in a tie for fourth in the 50 freestyle at last year's state meet. She was the only Single A girl to even reach a final at states. Against Handley and Spotswood, Frank finished first in the 100 meter butterfly, winning by nearly three seconds.
Hamill and Frank, along with seniors Jourdan Frankovich and Krisie Southern finished first in the 4×50 freestyle relay, and took home second in the 200 meter medley relay.
Frank, Southern and Frankovich were key parts of the relay team last year that went to the state meet and, with Hamill added to the arsenal, they look to be even stronger this season. In their dual meet, though, it was clear that Mason was no match for the deeper AA schools, as the ladies fell to both Handley and Spotswood.
This past Wednesday the team took on Strasburg High and Central High in a battle of single A schools. However, results were not available at press time. The team returns home this Friday to take on Bull Run District rivals Clarke County and Strasburg at 8:30 p.m.