With its year-round club organizations scattered throughout the Peninsula, the Historic Triangle has built a reputation for being one of the strongest swimming areas in the state.
Last year’s state meets were prime examples, as Bay Rivers District swimmers combined to win 11 gold medals at the 2A/3A and 4A state meets while Jamestown’s girls and Grafton’s boys both captured team titles.
This year could be no different, as the Eagles’ girls and Clippers’ boys remain loaded while others such as Lafayette’s boys and girls, Tabb’s girls and York’s girls should improve.
Whether the district can match its 11 state gold medals from last year remains to be seen.
Below we take a look at some of the district’s top returning swimmers and some new faces to keep an eye on as well.
Carter Kale, senior, Lafayette
Along with fellow standouts Brett Huckstep, Conor Flannery and Deke Lueker, Kale helped the Rams win state a gold medal in the 200 medley relay and place second in the 400 medley relay. Individually, the decorated senior, headed to swim for Virginia Tech, also won the 500 free state title and finished third in the 200 IM.
Jonathan Spires, junior, Grafton
Spires, who has been a local standout since his freshman year, captured four state gold medals last as a sophomore last winter. Spires, who also led Grafton to the 4A state team title, won individual gold medals in the 200 and 100 free events and swam a leg in the Clippers’ winning 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams as well.
James Kegelman, senior, Tabb
The last in a long line of Kegelman’s to star for Tabb, James was the area’s only swimmer to clock a sub-1 minute time in the 100 breastroke. He won the 4A state title in 58.61 seconds and helped the Tigers place second in the 200 medley freestyle.
Tyler Titsch, senior, Grafton
Headed to swim at UNC Wilmington, Titsch was third in the state in both the 100 and 200 free in addition to swimming on the Clippers state-champion relay teams.
Nathan Kimbell, senior, Grafton
The third returner from Grafton’s two state-champion relay teams, Kimbell also placed second in both the 200 IM and 100 breast at states last year.
Colin Wright, junior, Jamestown
Jamestown coach Molly Sandling says Wright, who helped Jamestown’s boys place third at states last year, worked hard in the offseason and should emerge as one of the top short-distance freestylers in the state. Merely two weeks into the season, he’s been nudging 5-year-old school records in the 100 and 50 free.
Parker Harp, sophomore, York
One of the area’s most improved swimmers, Harp recently clocked an impressive 21.9 seconds in the 50 free with the Coast Guard Blue Dolphins. York coach Steve Fisher says he is much faster this year and could be one of the top short-distance freestylers in the state.
Caleb Aman, freshman, Lafayette
A rising star in the area, Aman is already breaking some of Carter Kale’s Williamsburg Aquatics Club records. He can compete in almost every event, but specializes in the breaststroke and IM races.
Kilian Nebe, junior, Grafton
The junior transfer from Germany is a well-rounded swimmer who boosts Grafton’s chances of repeating as the 4A state champs.
Joey Salomon, freshman, Grafton
A talented year-round swimmer who specializes in the 100 fly and 100 back.
Evan Lynch, freshman, Bruton
A distance freestyle specialist who is making a name for himself locally and could compete for a 2A state medal.
Joelle Vereb, sophomore, Jamestown
Regarded by many as the most talented swimmer on the Peninsula, Vereb, a standout with the Williamsburg Aquatic Club, won two gold medals in the 50 free and 100 butterfly. Vereb is capable of placing high in any event she chooses to enter.
Margaret Williams, junior, Jamestown
Another key cog in Jamestown’s run to a 4A state title last year, Williams won two gold medals in the 100 and 200 free and, along with Vereb, swam on both of the Eagles’ winning 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams.
Jessica Beattie, junior, Lafayette
She and her twin sister Jenna are both versatile swimmers who helped the Rams place third at last year’s 3A state meet. Jessica had the team’s most successful day at states, leading Lafayette with two runner-up finishes in the 200 IM and 100 breast.
Rachel Rymer, junior, Grafton
The top returner on a Grafton team that lost eight seniors, Rymer placed runner-up in the 200 free and third in the 100 fly at states last year.
Kylie Roehrle, senior, Jamestown
The third of Jamestown’s three returning stars, Roehrle placed fourth in the 100 breaststroke and contributed to the Eagles’ success in the relay events as well.
Kate Maw, senior, Tabb
Maw took second in the 200 IM and third in the 100 backstroke in addition to helping the Tigers place second in the 200 medley relay.
Melissa Zhu, sophomore, Tabb
As a freshman last season, Zhu helped Tabb place third at states by finishing runner-up in the 100 fly and third in the 200 IM while also contributing in the relay events.
Abby Larson, freshman, Jamestown
A year-round swimmer with the Coast Guard Blue Dolphins, Larson is a touted freshman who adds to the Eagles already deep roster of quality swimmers. Larson could compete for postseason honors in the 50 free and 100 back.
Jacqueline Tinneny, freshman, Grafton
Capable of competing in any event, Tinneny, who swims year-round with South Eastern Virginia Aquatics, should make an immediate impact for Grafton’s girls team that lost many quality swimmers to graduation.
York’s Four Freshman
Alex Slayton, Elena Evans, Rylee Homan and Corinne Walters are all talented freshmen who swim year-round and give York one of the deepest teams in Group 3A this winter. Coach Steve Fisher compares Slayton to former state-champion MaryElizabeth Warhol, who swims for James Madison University after transferring from Auburn, for her ability to compete in any event.