The second of three all-Mercer Island swim meets this summer took place on Thursday as the Mercerwood Shore Club defeated the Mercer Island Country Club, 445.5-262.5. But the score was not as important as the tradition that the meet represents.
“Both meets, against the Beach Club and this one, are big rival meets,” said Shore Club coach Alice Godfred. “It brings out a different level of competition.”
Most of the talk poolside was more about last week’s meets and decline in numbers for all the teams on the Island.
“Many of our swimmers have gone to the Beach Club,” said Mercer Island Country Club coach Chris Simpson. “We lost eight key swimmers from last year. Mercer Island in general has lost a lot of swimmers. Some of it is financial, some vacations, and there are more and more activities to do here during the summer.”
The Country Club’s loss to Newport Hills last week gave notice to the defending league champions.
“I was very surprised,” said Godfred. “We swim against them [tomorrow]. The week of the Fourth [of July] is always tough.”
The two losses to begin the season come as no surprise to Simpson with the downturn in numbers. But the coach, who is also the aquatics director, is trying to combat the changes by “getting back to his roots.”
“I am back in the shallow end,” said Simpson. “We were getting these kids who didn’t have the basics down, and I enjoy teaching the kids that are 3, 4, 5 years old. It is humbling, and I really enjoy it.”
Helping Simpson are 14 junior coaches.
“It gives the kids role models, and the social experience is awesome,” said Simpson.
Simpson noted that the number of small kids swimming at the Country Club has not changed, which is encouraging.
The Shore Club has also seen a downturn in numbers.
“The summer-only swimmers are so important to our team,” said Godfred. “We have seen great improvement so far. Each week we are getting better and better.”
The toughest challenge for the Shore Club will come on July 10 when the club team hosts Edgebrook.
“They still really gear up for Edgebrook and we will need it this year,” said Godfred. “They have about 260 swimmers while we are down to about 160.”
Despite declining numbers, the quality of swims was no more evident than the Midlakes record in the 15-and-over girls 200-yard freestyle set against the Beach Club, which included Flora Muglia, Jennifer Pak, Rachel Godfred and Grace Wold.
“I knew that Flora was going to be gone to Europe,” said Godfred. “I added up all their 50s times and knew we had a chance at it.”
Personal records and event club records can be difficult to obtain, but the Midlakes records, most of the time, are out of reach.
“Some of those kids who hold those records have gone on to do some great things,” said Godfred. “Some of the records are 20 years old.”
None of the swims on Thursday resulted in a Midlakes record, but many club records were set.
The Mercer Island Beach Club lost to Edgebrook 442-268, Thursday.
For complete results from the Country Club and Shore Club meet, see page A9.