Fenton — It was a season filled with question marks.
When practices began, the Fenton varsity girls swim team had to practice in outdoor pools, and even when they returned to the Fenton High School pool, no one knew if the season would be completed.
It was a season that took a lot of perseverance, and the Tigers passed with flying colors. Fenton captured its 17th straight Flint Metro League championship by crushing the field at the league meet held at Fenton High School.
The Tigers, who have won all of those titles outright except one that was shared with Brandon, took nine of the 12 firsts and eight of the nine individual-event seconds en route to scoring 652 team points. That was nearly three times the amount of second-place Corunna’s 239 points and Owosso’s third-place total of 238 points. Holly finished fourth with 227 points.
And the Tigers earned it through it’s perseverance, something they had written on this year’s team shirts.
“That’s our team this year,” Fenton varsity girls swim coach Brad Jones said. “We have definitely pushed forward through some strange things. It’s been pretty stressful because we have to deal with things that are out of our control. Social contacting means that if somebody makes a poor choice, does something and sits next to you in school, it could mean your season is over. We are doing everything right. ... We were spaced out appropriately. Your weight room partner is your bus partner and is your lane partner. They are all the same.”
“It’s definitely been hard,” senior Madeline Kazmierski said. “(The season due to COVID-19)
is not what I expected but we’ve really tried to make the best of it. I know this is what I am going to get and it’s not going to change, so I am working with what I have and appreciating it.
“We were really worried about not being able to get the season at all and so once you are in the pool, you kind of forget everything that’s happening. You don’t have to wear your mask because you’re swimming and you kind of forget about everything.”
Of course, the Tigers have been the dominant team in the Metro since league titles were distributed for girls swimming, but the team championships still have a huge impact on the swimmers. Located on one wall of the pool are the banners representing each championship.
“It’s crazy,” Kazmierski said about all the banners. “Every year at the banquet the entire team will sign the back of (the banner) and you look up there and know that you were part of each group. Each banner represents a different team, a different group of girls and I was a part of each of those different teams. It’s just a reminder every day we work.”
“It means so much,” junior Gracie Olsen said. “Every year there’s so much excitement even though we are pretty much the dominant team. It’s so exciting. We put in all this hard work and even when we get ready we always say it all comes down to this one meet for the majority of the team, so it means a lot every year.”
The league meet was different this season due to COVID-19 restrictions. There wasn’t an audience and there wasn’t a preliminary round. It was all completed during one day of swimming.
The Tigers made the most of it and scored nine firsts. Three-time individual state champion Olsen took part in four of those firsts. She won the 100 freestyle (53.52) and the 100 breaststroke (1:05.66). Her breaststroke time was a meet record and a varsity record for Olsen.
She also teamed with Abigail Dolliver, Halee Alexander and Delaney Fries to win the 200 medley relay (1:51.78) and with Dolliver, Alexander and Sophie Stefanac to win the 200 freestyle relay (1:41.93). The 200 medley broke a meet record with its time.
The Tigers dominated the relays, earning firsts in all three. The other winning relay was the team of Delaney Fries, Sana Saab, Kazmierski and Stefanac who posted a first-place time of 3:55.68.
In fact, in two cases the second-best time posted in relays were Fenton teams. While their performances didn’t score team points, Abigail Carrigan, Rose Haney, Kazmierski and Avery Haynes had the second-best time 1:59.67 in the 200 medley relay and Costigan, Haney Saab and Libby Maier had the second-best time in the 200 freestyle relay (1:48.20).
Four other Fenton athletes earned individual event league championships. Fries, a senior, won the 100 backstroke (1:02.87) while Kazmierski won the 100 butterfly (1:03.73). Molly Blanchard took the top spot in the 500 freestyle (5:40.79).
There were plenty of individual seconds with seven Fenton athletes teaming to collect eight runner-up finishes.
Carrigan earned two of them, taking second in the 100 butterfly (1:03.74) and in the 100 backstroke (1:04.67). The other seconds were earned by Kazmierski in the 200 freestyle (2:10.96), Abbie Walker-Hackett in the 500 freestyle (5:55.68), Stefanac in the 200 individual medley (2:20.95), Saab in the 50 freestyle (26.03), Dolliver in the 100 breaststroke (1:10.63) and Fries in the 100 freestyle (55.82).
Plenty of other Fenton athletes earned individual top-eight performances. They were Walker-Hackett, third in the 200 freestyle (2:15.68); Jillian McVey, fourth in the 500 freestyle (6:15.68) and sixth in the 200 freestyle (2:21.56); Charlotte Perez, seventh in the 200 freestyle (2:23.01); Haney, third in the 100 breaststroke (1:12.32); Stefanac, fifth in the 100 butterfly (1:05.20); Blanchard, fourth in the 200 individual medley (2:24.86); Alexander, fifth in the 200 individual medley (2:24.87); Haynes, third in the 500 freestyle (6:00.89) and sixth in the 200 individual medley (2:32.47); Saab, fifth in the 100 freestyle (57.42); Maier, seventh in the 50 freestyle (28.80); Ella Koch, fifth in diving (245.20); Dolliver, third in the 100 freestyle (56.11); and Julia Johnson, sixth in the 500 freestyle (6:31.32).