An old friend kept Katy Stringfield from winning the Ironman swim meet for a third consecutive year on Saturday.
London Schumacher, who is swimming with Stringfield at Tuscola after spending her first two years of high school in Fayetteville, won the meet in which competitors swim eight events with the best composite time deciding the winner.
Stringfield, a senior for the Mountaineers, won four events, one more than Schumacher, whose 8-second advantage over Stringfield in the 200-yard individual medley was the turning point in the annual meet at the Zeugner Center.
“It’s always disappointing when you don’t win,” said Stringfield, who will swim at Florida State next year.
“But if I had to lose to anybody, I’m glad it’s her. She’s a great training partner.”
Schumacher had a composite time of 14 minutes, 18.35 seconds, more than 18 seconds ahead of Stringfield (14:32.84). Alyssa Arwood of Roberson (14:41.68) was third.
In the boys meet, junior Luke Lechner of Asheville High won all eight races in 13:01.04 to beat out Collin Purrman of Tuscola (13:30.61).
Schumacher and Stringfield first met when they both began swimming for the Smoky Mountain Aquatic Center more than 10 years ago. Schumacher and her family moved to Fayetteville before she began high school but have since returned to Waynesville.
“Katy’s a very good teammate. I love her to death,” said Schumacher, who won the 500 freestyle and 100 backstroke in addition to the 200 individual medley.
“It came down to the 200 IM, which was the turning point. Katy’s a great competitor and I’m very lucky to swim next to her.”
Stringfield won the first two races before Schumacher opened a lead by swimming the 200 IM in 2:13.49, well ahead of Stringfield’s time of 2:21.56.
Stringfield, who has won three NCHSAA 3-A state titles, was trailing by a little more than five seconds entering the 500, which is the sixth event, but Schumacher widened her lead to more than eight seconds with a time of 5:19.99.
The only other individual to win an event was Arwood, who easily won the 100 breaststroke in 1:09.06.
Tuscola coach Robin Batchelor said she would have liked to witness Stringfield win for a third straight time. She knew it was going to be close because her two swimmers push each other every day in practice.
“They were here to race, and that’s what swimming is all about,” Batchelor said.
Lechner, who didn’t swim in the Ironman last year, edged Purrman in the 200 freestyle, the first event, and opened up an 8-second advance after two races when he beat Purrman by almost 7 seconds in the 200 freestyle.
After six events Lechner had the title all but wrapped up with a 19-second advantage over Purrman, who finished second in six events. The only drama was if he would sweep every race. Lechner surprised himself by winning the 100 backstroke.
“It’s my weakest stroke, and I had my best time (56.17),” he said. “It motivated me after winning the first six events.”