For the Gazette
The Delaware Community Center Y.M.C.A. Riptide swim team hosted its fourth annual Orange Crush Invitational Saturday and Sunday.
The meet featured about 650 swimmers with boys and girls from 15 teams. Prior to the meet, Riptide head coach Axel Birnbrich said many of his swimmers were on the brink of qualifying for the Southeast Ohio-West Virginia League Championships, scheduled to be held in March in Canton, Ohio.
Overall the team achieved 225 best times, nine records and four new swimmers qualified for the regional league championships, Birnbrich said.
Despite some heavy competition, Birnbrich kept things fun during warm-ups by hosting a tights contest with his team. The boy and girl sporting the wildest designs won a gift card. The pre-meet contest energized the team, but it also served a second purpose.
“If they can swim the same pace at practice with leggings and two suits on and then they take it off, they’ll feel like they’re flying,” Birnbrich said.
The idea worked for several swimmers, including standouts on three 200-yard freestyle relay teams whose times qualified them for the upcoming Great Lakes Zones Meet.
In the girls 9-10 division, Mackenzie Carter, Olivia Elliott, Evaleigh Garnett and Alison Vaulx clocked a time of 2:07.82; Drake Bellisari, Connor Green, Philip Holst and Bobby Wolf won the 11-12 boys 200-yard freestyle relay in 1:53.65; and, in the 11-12 girls division, Claire Duffy, Maddie Richardson, Sophia Taracko and Libby Uniss finished with a time of 1:53.55.
“This was a very successful weekend for us,” Birnbrich said. “There’s a bright side to the end of the season.”
This year marked the largest invitational since the meet began in 2013 and required the help and coordination of nearly 200 volunteers.
“It can’t be done without the parents and families all pitching in,” Roxanne Richardson, volunteer and parent to two Delaware swimmers, said.
Next week, 15 Delaware Riptide swimmers will compete in the Circle City Classic meet sanctioned by USA Swimming at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Natatorium in Indianapolis.