A pair of youth swimmers for the Severna Park Racquetball and Fitness Club Stingrays achieved notable awards while helping their team to great levels of success this winter.
Stingray teammates Mary Feliz and Court Barrett were both honored by Maryland Swimming as the state’s Outstanding Swimmers for their respective age groups.
Feliz, 13, was named Maryland Swimming 12-Year-Old Female Outstanding Swimmer in the short course category. Barrett, 11, won Maryland Swimming 10-Year-Old Male Outstanding Swimmer in the long course category.
As a team, the Stingrays finished a program-best eighth place in the state championship meet held at St. Mary’s College from March 5 to March 8.
Feliz, of Shipley’s Choice, is a five-time Outstanding Swimmer award winner. She swam in 10 scoring events for the Stingrays at the Maryland Swimming long course championship meet, winning both the 1,000-yard freestyle and the 200-yard butterfly. Feliz placed second in both the 100 fly and the 1,650-yard freestyle. Feliz’s point accumulations helped the Stingrays achieve their team placement.
“Mary is the true heart of our team,” said Stingrays head coach Jim Hutcheson. “Her work ethic is unstoppable, and she has not let her lack of physical stature stop her from being among the best female athletes in Maryland as she represents her community in pools throughout the eastern part of the U.S.”
Barrett, a student at St. Martin’s-in-the-Field, received his first age-group Outstanding Swimmer award from Maryland Swimming. He scored in five individual events at the state championship meet as an 11-year-old, a rare feat for an 11-year-old competing primarily against more physically developed and stronger 12-year-olds. Barrett’s point totals were crucial to helping the Stingrays to their proud team finish.
“Court’s character is one thing that makes him so special,” said Hutcheson, who recounted that Barrett praised a competitor who broke a previous event record he had set as a 10-year-old. “Just before he swam in the finals, Court was the first to congratulate the swimmer who had just wiped out his record and then proceeded to place fourth in his event,” said Hutcheson.
In addition to the team’s eighth-place finish at states, the Stingrays recently celebrated their first Olympic-trial qualifying alumnus. Jackson Schultz, a swimmer at the United States Naval Academy, achieved a qualifying time for Olympic trials in the 200-meter breaststroke.
Hutcheson said the Stingrays program has grown in the past five years to become a powerful entity in Maryland Swimming despite its relatively small size. The team has competed in multiple USA Swimming events in recent years as well as the prestigious IMX Challenge Meet at the University of Maryland, an elite, IronMan-esque meet for distance swimmers that draws more than 200 teams from Maine to North Carolina and involves more than 1,400 swimmers.
The Stingrays program has also produced multiple age-group Outstanding Swimmer recipients every year over the last several years.
“This year’s accomplishments have laid the foundation for an even stronger performance going forward because of a dedicated and professional coaching staff, family-oriented program, and great support from the management and membership of SPRC,” said Hutcheson.