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Conestoga’s McKenrick dusts Hansen’s record

RADNOR >> There’s a slight discrepancy in the annals of Central League swimming history that tells you plenty about the career of Brendan Hansen.

For the entirety of this Millennium, the Central League record in the 200 individual medley stood at 1 minute, 54.65 seconds. But the mark on the board at Radnor High School’s pool, which hosted Haverford’s dual meets in the day, was slightly quicker at 1:54.31.

The latter was just a ho-hum swim pumped out by the eventual three-time Olympian during a Saturday afternoon dual meet in 1999, as lore goes. Both times were in the stratosphere for a high schooler then.
Friday, Brian McKenrick emphatically banished all that minutiae to the dusty books of history.

The Conestoga senior obliterated Hansen’s 18-year-old marks by nearly three seconds at 1:51.38 to claim the crown and a momentous slice of history.

His motivation stemmed as much from a Brendan of the future as of the past — namely sophomore teammate Brendan Burns.

“I know Brendan is coming up,” McKenrick said. “I knew I needed to start spreading out to records I know will be safe. So I started looking at the 200 IM.”

McKenrick, who will attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, had a prescient point: Two events later, Burns went 49.14 in the 100 butterfly, negating the pool and meet marks McKenrick set last year.

McKenrick isn’t new to the IM. He swam it at states last year, finishing third in 1:51.44. His club best is 1:49, the product of a year’s work shoring up his breaststroke.

His past made Hansen’s record seem attainable, and McKenrick made it so, despite no rest for the meet.

“I was like, well this is 1:54 here,” he said. “If I can really focus on this, that will be a good gauge on where I am midseason.”

McKenrick’s gold was one installment of domination by the undefeated dual-meet champ Conestoga. Kevin Ryle pulled away late to claim the 200 freestyle in 1:44.99. Burns and McKenrick joined Ryan Look and Oliver Brown to win the medley relay in 1:35.43, downing meet and pool records.

As much as capturing a six-time Olympic medalist’s record is a valuable prize, McKenrick is more heartened by what the time intrinsically says about his progress.

“Really for me, it was just the time and myself, knowing that I can go this fast midseason,” he said. “…To know I could do that right here, right now, that’s all the satisfaction I need.”

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Conestoga freshman Caroline Famous poses atop the podium after winning the 50 freestyle at the Central League Championships Friday at Radnor High School. Second was Shannon Jackson of Penncrest, right.

No one was as disappointed by the absence of Claire Walsh at Centrals as Caroline Famous.

Sans the Penncrest sophomore and reigning 50 free champ, Famous comfortably swam to victory, cashing in on the top seed to win in 23.78 seconds, swiping Walsh’s pool and meet records.

But the Conestoga freshman was disappointed at being deprived the chance to race her club teammate and friend, who missed the meet due to illness.

“Claire is one of my closest friends, so I was really surprised that she wasn’t here, because she’s definitely one of the best swimmers I know,” Famous said. “So I was disappointed that I didn’t get to race her.”

The two sprinters didn’t race in the schools’ dual meet, Famous absent with a back injury that she says has healed. She showed that with a final-heat best time that beat runner-up Shannon Jackson of Penncrest (who raced in the prior heat) by more than a second.

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Greg Giannella was not a happy camper when he touched the wall in the 50 free.

He won easily with a time of 21.35 seconds. But with the Radnor school record of 21.32, set by Victor Johnson in 2003, just out of his reach, he was visibly disappointed.

A little adjustment for the 200 free relay, though, cut short the anguish.

“(Coach Tom Robinson) came up to me and was like, ‘Do you want to go first? Because I know you can get it,’” Giannella said. “And I was like, ‘OK I’ll go first.’ I just swam it with a different mindset. … (in the 5) I was like, I really want to get this record. And when I went off in the relay, I was just like, swim it as fast as you can.”

Despite what he diagnosed as another slow start, Giannella went 21.25 on the relay, leading Ryan Tague, Patrick Cullen and James El-Deiry to victory in 1:27.62. Cullen was second in the 50 in 21.97.

***

NOTES >> Famous and Garnet Valley’s Madison Kolessar in the 200 IM yielded early event victories for a talented freshman girls class. Three of the top six in the IM and two of the top five in the 200 free are rookies. Lower Merion’s Anna Kalandadze won the 200 free, leading a sophomore top-three sweep. … A contender for under-the-radar swim of the boys meet was Upper Darby’s Jack McConnell, who leapt from the 21st seed in the IM to 11th place, dropping 8.87 seconds to 2:05.73. Also lost in McKenrick’s virtuoso swim is Ridley’s Alex Boeckx and El-Deiry capturing second and third with 1:57s.

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