As he read over the final team standings from the Gwinnett County Swim League championship meet, Rick Creed got confirmation of what he saw play out over two days of competition at Georgia Tech.
The Chateau Elan coach knew his North Division was loaded and those powerful teams put on quite a display at the two-day meet, claiming seven of the top eight positions. And when the swimming finished up Sunday evening, Creed's Wahoos finished on top by a margin of less than 100 points over the runner-up Thunderbolts.
Those two teams were both part of a regular-season division that featured several other top finishers at the county meet, including third-place Daniel Park, fourth-place Hamilton Mill and fifth-place Lansmoore. Morning View (seventh) and Apalachee (eighth) also are from the North Division -- a stranglehold at the top that was broken up only by sixth-place Flowers Crossing, a South Central Division team.
"I think it really helps that our division is so competitive, it's so tough," said Creed, whose team won its second straight county title. "It not only helps them qualify for the county meet because our meets are so competitive every week during the regular season, but it also prepares them for the competition they're going to see at county."
What they got at county was a good battle that resulted in one of the tighter team finishes in recent years.
Creed, co-head coach of Chateau Elan with his wife Heidi, expected a narrow margin after losing so many swimmers off last year's county championship team. Some were too old for the 18-and-under league, while others took this summer off from GCSL to focus on year-round club swimming.
But the Wahoos still had plenty of depth that led to a strong showing in relays and produced enough points to hold off the hard-charging Thunderbolts, who surged back from an early deficit.
Chateau Elan's 15- to 18-year-old foursome of Jared Coury, Parker Schwab, Kevin Doran and Christopher Powell won relay county titles in the 200 freestyle and medley, while two Wahoo girls relays also won championships.
Meredith Roper (also co-county champ in the 25 free), Hannah Yike, Megan Smith and Emily Donnelly placed first in the 9- and 10-year-old girls 100 free relay and the foursome of Kara Powell, Corinne Dalley, Stephanie Murillo and Kelsey Bouwman was first in the 11- and 12-year-old 200 medley relay.
"We lost some big scores (from last year's champions) but the kids at the county meet all stepped up and swam very well," said Creed, whose is assisted by Maggie Shay, Jared Coury, Savannah Miller and Seth Engleman. "The key to our win was the consistency of our relays. All the relays swam well.
"So many kids contributed, even some kids we didn't expect to contribute stepped up and scored. It's hard to single out kids because we had so many score."
The relatively new Chateau Elan program scored just enough to beat one of the county's oldest summer league teams, the Thunderbolts. They trimmed Chateau Elan's lead down to 25 points, but they never found enough points to surge ahead.
The performance was still strong for the Thunderbolts, who have five championships and seven runner-up finishes since 1996. They have finished outside the top three only once (a fourth place finish) during that span.
"We swam out of our heads, we swam great," Thunderbolts head coach Jim Reason said. "It's tough when you throw everything but the kitchen sink at (Chateau Elan) and you still finish second. That hurts, but I'm so proud of my kids and so proud of my coaches. They did a phenomenal job all year."
Reason's team had three swimmers sweep first in their events, including Luke Upchurch in the 15- to 18-year-old division in the 50 backstroke, 100 individual medley and 100 free. Evan McInerny (7- and 8-year-old 50 free, 25 breaststroke, 25 butterfly) and Haley McInerny (11- and 12-year-old 50 back, 200 IM, 50 fly) also had three county titles apiece.
The Thunderbolts' Ryan MacKinnon won the 7- and 8-year-old 25 back, in addition to joining Evan McInerny, Austin Turner and Israel Pendleton on a first-place 8-and-under 100 medley relay. The runner-up team also got a county title in the 13- and 14-year-old 200 free and medley relays from the group of Joseph Portillo, Chase Adams, Kent Yang and Arturo Camacho.