For the first time in three years, the YMCA national swimming championships were held in Greensboro, North Carolina, this time from March 28 to April 1. And SPY Swimming represented the greater Severna Park area, sending the largest group of swimmers out of the six Maryland teams that competed.
Eight swimmers competed for SPY, with all of them being first-time competitors due to the event’s cancellation the past two years.
While the team did not podium in any of its individual or relay events, all of the relay teams were able to requalify for next year’s nationals. Overall, SPY head coach Crystee Ballard was glad to have her swimmers participate in nationals after not having the event for so long.
“It was so great to be back at this meet after missing it for three years,” she said. “YMCA nationals just has a special kind of atmosphere that you don’t feel at most meets. The vibe on the deck from other Y teams, coaches and swimmers is pure excitement.”
For the swimmers who participated, it was an event they won’t soon forget. “It was a fun experience to be able to go to a big swim meet at a high level with my teammates,” said 13-year-old Lena Rausch. “The USA-themed parade was also a fun and exciting experience with all of the other swimmers from other clubs around the country.”
For 15-year-old Amelia Goger, getting to nationals was the realization of a longtime goal. “Nationals was so special because it’s what my team and I had been working and training for all year,” she said. “Finally being there with my team and to be surrounded by some of the best swimmers in the country was so cool.”
With several of its younger swimmers like Rausch and Goger making it to nationals, SPY should have a strong future as swimmers continue to build and develop their relationships with one another.
“My favorite part of nationals was seeing the team come together and be so supportive of one another,” said 17-year-old Shannon Sullivan. “SPY really has something special, and I know that these will be forever friendships that we have here.”
Ballard hopes that her swimmers’ nationals experience will help them succeed in the future, both within and outside of SPY. “We had a group of eight ‘rookies’ and this meet put them on a big stage,” she stated. “The experience and competition from this meet will give them the confidence they need to succeed at the next level.”