The Upper Moreland boys swim team had never won a District One Class AA championship; that is until Saturday afternoon at LaSalle University when the Golden Bears lifted the team trophy scoring 301 points, just edging out Springfield, which came in second with 284 points.
"When we realized it could possibly happen yesterday and the boys wanted to talk about it, we said ' no, we are not discussing it,' Upper Moreland coach Melanie Rowland said.
While the Bears did most of their damage in the Friday session, they did get a big first place from Iain Smith who won the 100 breaststroke convincingly, nearly breaking the district record finishing with a time of 58.42. After Smith's solid breaststroke performance followed his 50 freestyle win on Friday Smith earned Class AA Outstanding Swimmer honors.
"It is extremely satisfying,' Smith said of winning the team title, "because I never would have guessed it until coach said, ' you guys can win this' and it's the first time in Upper Moreland history the guys have ever won districts.'
Upper Moreland closed the meet out with the 400 freestyle relay. The quartet of Bears consisting of Kane Nelson, Jake Winter, Mike Freeman and Smith put out a time of 3:22.39, losing to a Springfield foursome consisting of Tim Resch, Ben Wiley, Jake Corcoran and Danny Giampietro with the winning time of 3:21.38.
"We got to the last relay and we knew all we had to do was finish,' Rowland said. "It didn't even matter what place. We were seeded top. We were supposed to win. I took the boys aside and said, ' I want you to see the whites of their eyes before you take off. I don't want you leaving early and it's OK if you take second.''
Prior to being part of the winning 400 freestyle relay team, Giampietro took home an individual accolade by winning the 500 freestyle by more than four seconds, clocking in with a time of 4:49.42.
"It feels good, it gives me a lot of confidence going into states,' Giampietro said. "This swim I was pretty nervous about because last year I went out too fast and then I lost it at the end, so for this meet I was just trying to stay calm.'
On the Class AAA side, defending District One champ Upper Dublin fell short to North Penn in its title defense as North Penn reclaimed the title scoring 264 points, just 38 more points than the Cardinals.
Even though Upper Dublin didn't win the meet it still got some monster swims, particularly out of senior Chris Devlin and sophomore Michael Jensen.
After winning the 200 freestyle on Friday, Devlin was looking for the double dip with the 500 freestyle Saturday afternoon. Devlin got his second gold medal in a big way, swimming a 4:33.57, breaking a 23-year old district record. Devlin however did not run away with the victory as North Penn's Thanas Kountroubis was right on Devin as he finished with a 4:34.92, which also was under district record pace.
"It was pretty awesome, definitely a great swim,' Devlin said. "I knew I had some great competition. Thanas beat me last year and I knew everybody was going to be so close.'
Jensen was also able to repeat his success Saturday. After winning the 100 butterfly on Friday, Jensen was able to get to wall first again, this time in the 100 freestyle as he rocked the field with a 45.52.
"I was really excited from yesterday, all that adrenaline just kind of carried over and I did well,' Jensen said.
Devlin and Jensen both had an encore performance in the 400 freestyle relay. In the final event of the meet the Cardinals closed out in style winning the relay with a time of 3:08.14 with Jensen swimming the anchor leg, leaving no doubt about the status of the Upper Dublin swim program.
"I was glad about that,' Upper Dublin coach Geoff Scheuer said. "It's always nice to end the meet with a win. We've had some great success with that relay the past couple of years, so it was good to go out on top like that.'
In many seasons, the performances of Jensen and Devlin might have been enough to take home the Outstanding Swimmer award, but this year it was all about Hatboro-Horsham junior Michael Thomas. Thomas cruised to a district record in the 200 IM on Friday and followed up on Saturday by smashing the district and pool record in the 100 backstroke, touching with a 47.56, just fewer than four seconds ahead of second place.
"I was so surprised when I looked up and [saw] 47, my only goal was to go under 50,' Thomas said of his 100 backstroke. "By the end, I died a bit, which is actually good not being tapered. I was telling myself on the last lap to work my kicks and I was like, ' well I can't work my kicks, so I'll work my arms, I was well I can't work my arms either,' I was just so dead.'
"I didn't really expect that either,' Thomas said of being named Outstanding Swimmer.