Nansemond River outstroke King’s Fork in Saturday’s swim event

Published 11:18 pm Saturday, January 17, 2009

CHESAPEAKE – Swim meets can be a bit chaotic at even the best of times and Saturday’s event at the Great Bridge Swim and Racket Club featured a pair of two-team matchups being conducted at the same time in the same pool. So it wasn’t overly surprising to hear King’s Fork High coach Gina Herr say after her boys narrowly defeated city rival Nansemond River that she hadn’t been aware the teams were neck and neck in the late going.

As swimmers climbed onto the blocks in preparation for the 400 meter free relay, the public address announcer told those in attendance that the most recent point totals indicated the teams were tied. Because of the time needed to tabulate results, scoring often lags a bit behind the actual action in the pool.

With the stage set, a King’s Fork quartet of Michael Babineau, Caleb Nixon, Hayden Finch and Alex Tsetsilas went to work and finished in 4:57.50. Nansemond River’s relay team of Alex Loclear, Eric Alderman, Luis Briales and Jordan Northey turned in a time of 5:48.21. For the Bulldogs, whose program is only in its second year of existence, the 124-117 meet victory was a proud milestone.

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“That was huge,’’ said Kerr, who started the King’s Fork team in 2007. “To get a tangible result like that shows the guys that all their hard work pays off.’’

King’s Fork has 13 male swimmers while Nansemond River has only eight and the schools’ roster numbers for their girls teams are similarly weighted, but in favor of the Warriors. As in wrestling and track, teams earn points not just for placing well in an event, but for entering competitors at all.

Nansemond River coach Shamus Riley, who’s a veteran of the school’s football and soccer teams, was handed his current post only a week before the current season started. Nonetheless, he said swimming has become his favorite sport to coach, because his competitors’ character and effort is outstanding.

“These are the smart kids, the hard workers who don’t call attention to themselves in school,’’ Riley said. “We have to practice in Portsmouth and we only get four hours a week, but the kids have been great and I’m really enjoying this experience.’’

Riley said he figured King’s Fork might have an edge in the 400 meter relay and therefore he was hoping to be in the lead before that race arrived. But even with the defeat, the coach said he saw some good performances, especially from junior Alex Petersen, who won the 100 meter fly in 1:16.66, a time that bettered not only his Nansemond River opponent, but three from the established program at Western Branch, which was en route to a 143-7 rout of Indian River.

Petersen also won the 100 meter freestyle in 1:09.40. Top performers for King’s Fork included sophomore Babineau, who won the 200 meter freestyle in 2:45.06 and the 100 meter backstroke in 1:25.72 and Curtis Poole, a senior, won the 50 meter free with a time of 29.93.

On the girls side, Nansemond River victors included 200 meter freestyler Chalice Rowe in 2:55.47, Danielle Presley in the 50 meter free with a time of 38.88, Kaitlin Staples in the 100 meter fly in 1:38.97, Danielle Gallagher during the 400 meter freestyle in 6:43.16 and in the 100 meter breast stroke in 1:41.81, 400 meter freestyler Elizabeth Campbell in 7:30.89 and Sarah McLain during the 100 meter back stroke in 1:21.65.

King’s Fork’s girls team got a 100 meter freestyle victory from Mariya Register, who finished in 1:27.01.