The Daniel Park Twisters celebrate winning the Gwinnett County Swim League Championships. (Photo: River Oak Photography)
Luke Macfarlane’s splash into the Georgia Tech pool for the boys 8-and-under 25-yard breaststroke brought the usual uncertainty for his Daniel Park Twisters coach.
Despite Luke’s extra training sessions recently, Kathy Janzen didn’t know what to expect from the 8-year-old in the annual Gwinnett County Swim League Championships.
“Like any 8-and-under, you hold your breath when they jump in and think, ‘Please do the breaststroke, don’t do freestyle,’” Janzen said. “But he did everything right. All the stars aligned.”
Macfarlane was seeded 24th in his event, but he dropped more than two seconds for a time of 23.65. It was good for a fourth-place finish, an improvement of 20 slots and a surprising chunk of points for Daniel Park in the team standings. Teammate Matthew Abbasi also delivered, winning the same race in 21.65.
“When kids go from 24th to fourth, that’s the kind of stuff that wins meets,” Janzen said.
While Macfarlane’s jump up the breaststroke standings was impressive, he had plenty of help over the weekend from his teammates.
The Twisters repeated as GCSL champions with a score of 2,114 points, well ahead of the 1,703 posted by runner-up Flowers Crossing. The Thunderbolts (1,552.5), Lansmoore (1,328) and Spalding Corners (1,096) rounded out the top five. Morning View (1,064), Evergreen Lakes (1,064), Cedar Creek (977.5), Chateau Elan (975) and Wild Timber (951) also finished in the top 10.
“It was sort of a surprise to win,” said Janzen, who coaches the 118-swimmer team with her son Bruce, Matt Norton and Hannah Gilbert. “At the beginning of the season, I thought Flowers Crossing had this. I would have been happy with second. I didn’t want to finish third, but I would have taken second.
“But my kids swam an amazing meet. They came to swim.”
A total of 25 meet records were set during the two-day meet, which features more than 2,200 of Gwinnett’s top youth swimmers. Five of those records now belong to Daniel Park, including four from the same family.
Tristen Ulett set new Gwinnett records in the 9- and 10-year-old girls 50-yard freestyle (27.16 seconds) and in the 10-and-under 100 individual medley (1:07.43).
Younger sister Ryenne Ulett also broke two county marks in the 7-8 girls 25 backstroke (16.28) and the 8-and-under 25 butterfly (15.11).
The Twisters’ Christopher Pierce also earned a GCSL record with his time of 25.40 in the boys 13-14 50 back.
“Our theme this year was every swimmer, every point, and they all took it to heart,” Janzen said of the Twisters, who also won three county titles from 2002-04 when they were based out of Timber Ridge.
The biggest haul of meet records came from Flowers Crossing, whose swimmers broke nine county marks. Four of those were in relays — the 13-14 girls 200 free (1:39.52) and 200 medley (1:49.35), along with the 15-18 boys 200 free (1:24.75) and 200 medley (1:33.34).
The team also got individual county records from Devan Sweeney (13-14 girls 50 backstroke, 27.29), Alex Taylor (15-18 boys 100 IM, 51.10), Erin Scott (13-14 girls 50 breast, 29.93), Nick LaMontagne (15-18 boys 50 breast, 26.15) and Lydia Jones (15-18 girls 50 fly, 25.53).
Evergreen Lakes’ Bradley Downs was the meet’s top individual record-breaker. In the 13-14 boys division, he won the 100 IM (54.67), 100 free (48.49) and 50 fly (23.73).
The Thunderbolts’ also had a trio of records, two from Joyce Kim in the 11-12 girls division — 1:01.02 in the 100 IM and 31.71 in the 50 breast. The other record was 28.03 from Jonathan Yang in the boys 13-14 50 breast.
Wild Timber’s Emma Alexander broke the county mark in the 11-12 girls 100 free (53.81) and helped her team set a new GCSL relay mark in the 200 medley relay (2:00.21).
Cedar Creek’s 9-10 boys relays also notched a couple of county records in the 100 free (54.08) and 100 medley (1:04.00).
It also was a big meet for Trickum Middle School teachers. Both Janzen and Eastmont Cove’s Susan Moody, who was named the GCSL coach of the year, teach at Trickum.
“Susan does such an amazing job,” Janzen said.
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