Torpedoes Swim to Unlikely Championship
By Kevin O’Rourke
It wasn’t supposed to happen. Based on last year’s results, the Germantown Torpedoes Swim Team wasn’t supposed to be a juggernaut, especially since they were moving up to a tougher division.
After all, the last time the Germantown Torpedoes won a divisional title George W. Bush was still in the White House and Martha Stewart had just been indicted on insider trading charges.
But that was 2003.
In 2014 the Torpedoes kicked past the competition to win the 2014 Montgomery County Swim League Division B championship posting an undefeated season in the process. The Torpedoes, or Torps, swim out of the Germantown Outdoor Pool on Kingsview Drive, and prior to the start of the season nobody would have expected their success.
“We were the underdogs at the start of the season,” said Torpedoes Head Coach Jenny Papandrea. “But, I had high hopes for the final outcome. I knew we had a strong team and were going to be big contenders.”
According to Kathie Rush, the Torps Team Rep, the league in which the Torpedoes compete in is made of up 91 teams throughout the county, and divided into 15 divisions which run A through O, with the most competitive teams swimming in divisions A and B. All teams are seeded in each in division based on prior years performances against MCSL teams.
This summer Torps were swimming in the second most competitive division, putting them among the top 10 teams in the county, and as a result of this year's dominating performance will remain in Division B for the 2015 swim season.
Going into the 2014 season, the Torpedoes were seeded fifth in the division which also includes a Germantown-based rival, the Manchester Farms Pool. The Torps came out on top going undefeated in all five dual meets and finished first in both the division relay carnival and final divisional meet to claim the “B” Division title. The last time the Torps won a division title was in 2003.
“We came into the division seeded fifth out of six teams,” said Rush. “After moving up from D Division in 2013, on paper we should not have won the division. But anything can happen in MCSL.”
The Torps started the season with an away win over the top ranked Kensington, Md-based, Cedarbrook Sharks Swim Team, posting a score of 433 to 357.
“Any time a team beats a higher seeded team, I think it can be considered an upset,” said Rush. “Winning the first meet against Cedarbrook was a great start, as Cedarbrook was seeded first in the division.”
In week two of the season, the Torps defeated Potomac-based Tallyho Foxes Swim Team at home by posting a score of 434 to 358. They followed that with another road win besting the Darnestown Demons 403 to 389 in week three.
Week four of the swim season saw the Torps winning on the road again, this time squeaking past the Rockville-based Woodley Gardens Waves Swim Team 401 to 391.
The last dual meet of the season was against the across-the-street neighbors Manchester Farms, which the Torps won 428.5 to 363.5.
“The team remained strong throughout the season,” said Papandrea, “but one meet that stood out from the rest was the final dual meet against our neighbors, Manchester Farm. This was our last dual meet, and Manchester always puts up a good fight. We were missing several swimmers who were away on vacations, but all the kids really stepped up and had some very impressive swims.”
“The last dual meet against Manchester Farms really stands out,” said agreed Rush. “We needed to beat them to remained undefeated. I think our swimmers really stepped up and posted a lot of best times. And we won the meet.”
Rush pointed to performances by a few swimmers as key factors contributing to the success of the team this season. “A few kids stand out in my mind,” she said. She spoke of Carolyn Conner, age 7, who was a first time Torpedo. “It was her first time on any swim team. She ended the season with an All-Star time in backstroke.”
Another stand out was Arona Baigal. “This 14-year-old is a long time Torpedo and was the high-point winner for her age group and posted All Star times in all five events; freestyle, backstroke, breast stroke, butterfly and individual medley,” said Rush.
Rush also spoke of 16 year-old Samantha Bischoff as a big contributor to the Torps success in 2014. “She is another long time Torpedo, she was the high-point winner for the 15 to 18 girls, posting a team record in butterfly, along with her first All Star time in butterfly,” according to Rush.
“We are fortunate to have many really talented swimmers on our team. Ever since the 2012 Olympics, the number of kids swimming year-round has dramatically increased. Swimming all year makes for some really good swimmers,” said Rush.
Rush also praised the Torps coaching team, “There is a real art to creating line ups for a meet, I think our coaches did a great job deciding how to best utilize the swimmers in each meet in order to maximize the number of points.”
Coach Jenny Papandrea credits the swimmers and her staff for the success. “There were many factors that lead to the team’s success this season. The coaches and swimmers all work very hard, and are extremely dedicated to the sport. Every single Torpedo improved their times throughout the season.”
Papandrea also praised her staff and the Torps army of parent volunteers. “The coaching staff and volunteers are directly related to the team’s success. I had three great assistant coaches this year and awesome volunteers who I cannot thank enough for dedicating their time and efforts to the team.”
Rush was quick to point out that the volunteers are of utmost importance to any successful swim team, “I think the volunteers try very hard to allow the coaches to spend their time and effort focusing on the swimmers.”
While the coaches and swimmers of the Germantown Swim Team begin to think about preparing to defend their title in 2015, Papandrea and the team are enjoying the victory. “Being Division B champs means a lot to the Germantown Swim Team,” she said. “As I said before, it had been 11 years since we last one a division title. This was a victory well deserved.”
Top: Germantown Torpedo Raisa Niederhelman swims in one of the Germantown-based team's victories in the 2014 MCSL season.
Middle: The Torps cheer and chant before a meet.
Bottom: The 2014 Germantown Torpedoes.
Photo Credits: Germantown Torpedoes.