Battle of the Barracudas

By Marvin Birchfield
star staff

  The first event of the East Tennessee Swim League took place at Elizabethton High School on Tuesday, with the Elizabethton Barracudas and Johnson City Barracudas both in competitive spirits.
  Johnson City won the overall meet with a team score of 212 to 138, but Elizabethton showed it could hang tough as its sights are still on making it to the championship competition.
  "I'm thrilled with the number of swimmers we have this year -- we only had four to start last year," said Elizabethton Summer League coach Jonell Johnson. "We had 14 by the end of the championship, but this year we're starting with over 30.
  "I think everyone had a good time, and hopefully at the next meet we'll be even better. With the numbers we have we might just make a good showing at the championship meet in July."
  In the 12-and-under class, it was Johnson City's Anthony Battista winning the boys 100 meters with a time of 1:37:22, while Marsha Girish came through for the girls in a time of 1:37:03.
  James Kang won the 100 meter in the boys 14-and-under division, but a quick time of 1:17:31 from Elizabethton's Ruth Ann Johnson was the best time for the event in girls competition.
  "This is the second year we've had this, and last year all I did was swim, but this year I'm the assistant coach," said Ruth Ann Johnson. "I've been swimming with the Barracudas and coming to morning practice on Monday and Tuesday, and then I come for high school practice every day, so it gets kind of tiring."
  Russell England of Johnson City was the fastest in the boys 8-and-under, 25-meter class, with Elizabethton's Sydney Farthing winning the girls division in 24.67 seconds.
  In the 12-and-under freestyle class, Johnson City won both events as Nicholas Clanton was tops for the boys and Girish best in the girls event.
  Johnson City took on first again in the 50-meter freestyle event for both girls and boys, as Chelsea Kinser turned in a time of 43.20 while Zach Greene finished at 54.57.
  Justin Stanley's 37.65 time was good enough for first place in the boys 14-and-under, 50-meter freestyle, as Elizabethton also won in the girls class, with Johnson finishing in 30.58, which was over three seconds better than the time of EHS assistant basketball coach Harry Farthing, the resourceful veteran who won the men's open division.
  "It's a lot of fun, and I've just got one more year until reaching high school," said Stanley.
  England nipped out Elizabethton's Preston Davis in the 8-and-under, 25-meter breaststroke. Summer Lowe won the girls' class.
  Boys 10-and-under breaststroke went to Kalin Estes of Johnson City, while Danielle Miller of Elizabethton was the girls first-place finisher.
  James King was the winner of the boys 12-and-under, while teammate Chelsea Kinser was first in the girls for Johnson City.
  Stanley took first in the boys backstroke, and the girls 14-and-under went to 'Betsy's Amanda Walker with a time of 43.63.
  "I'll be swimming on the high school team next year, and I'm excited and think it will be fun being with everybody next year," said Walker.
  England scored another victory for Johnson City in the 8-and-under boys, while Madeline Ford won the girls in a time of 24.00.
  "I'm eight years old, and I've been swimming for about a year now," said Ford. "I have improved and my favorite event is the breaststroke."
  Battista won the boys 10-and-under boys backstroke, with the girls going to Miller along with Axie McQueen of Elizabethton, who competed in her first event after just learning to swim last week.
  "I'm nine years old, and this has really been fun," said McQueen.
  Greene was victorious in the 12-and-under, while Kristin Keithley finished first for Johnson City in the girls class.
  Stanley won the 14-and-under boys over Marcus Hill, with Keely Hamm winning the girls at 42.17.
  "I'll be competing in the high school level this season," said Hill. "This is my first event with the team and we're doing pretty good."
  Lowe and Girish were first-place finishers in the 25-meter butterfly, while Estes and Kang were on top of the boys for Johnson City.
  Johnson City finished first in every relay event except for the girls 14-and-under, 200-meter free relay, which was won by Elizabethton.
  "It was new for a lot of us. This is my first year coaching a summer league team, and things went pretty well," said Johnson City Summer League coach Stephanie Sprouse. "The kids had a good time and learned how a swim meet is run, and overall the team did great. It was a good first meet for both times."