Joey Kriegler did not feel an instantaneous sense of accomplishment Monday when he became Asheville School’s first state swimming champion in 17 years at the NCISAA 3-A meet.
Fear was more like it.
The 500-yard freestyle is the longest individual or relay event in high school swimming. It requires strokes that cover 20 lengths of the pool.
Numerical cards are flashed underwater as athletes make their turns, as to remind them of how much distance they have left in the endurance event. And a meet official typically rings a bell to let the race leader know when he or she is on their final length.
For whatever reason, the bell-ringing didn’t happen Monday in the Greensboro Aquatic Center. Kriegler still won with a personal record of 4 minutes, 40.34 seconds.
“They usually ring the bell near the end of the race, but they didn’t, and I had to look up and make sure I hadn’t counted wrong,” Kriegler said.
“I felt really good. I was tied with (runner-up Michael Todd from Cary Academy, 4:46.11) and then broke away at about the 150-yard mark.”
Kriegler, who also came in third in the 200-yard freestyle (1:45.73), swims in the offseason for Asheville Swimming Club.
The Blues senior bettered his personal record in the 500-yard freestyle by about 11 seconds.
Kriegler’s father, Frank, has been the coach at Asheville School for 18 years, which barely predates the Blues’ last boys or girls win at the NCISAA 3-A meet (1998).
Frank Kriegler estimated that 90 percent of the boys and girls swimmers he took to Greensboro on Monday achieved personal records in the Greensboro Aquatic Center pool.
The Blues teams returned home safely after travel that had become treacherous between the Piedmont Triad and Western North Carolina.
“We were really excited about it,” Frank Kriegler said. “It was a different kind of energy from our teams than any I have ever seen before. They really wanted to perform well, and they did.”
In addition to Frank Kriegler’s son, the Blues got top-three state finishes from Nathan Alleyne in the 50-yard freestyle (third place, 22.66) and Josh Wong in the 100-yard breaststroke (third place, 1:01.55).
Wildcats clean up in relays
Carolina Day’s boys and girls swim teams won three relays at Monday’s NCISAA 1-A/2-A swim meet in Greensboro.
The Wildcats (241 points) were the second-place boys team overall.
The winning teams for the boys came in the 200-yard medley relay (1:48.20) was made up of Tony Kostov, Ian McGufficke, Craig Morrison and Matt Swedan. The same group, with Matthew Morrison instead of Matt Swedan, swam a first-place time in the 400-fresstyle relay (3:28.59).
As for the girls, the winning group came in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:47.22) consisted of Emma May, Peyton Baer, Oliva Sutter and Maddie Paulus.
The Carolina Day boys (241 points) came in second to O’Neal School (255). The Wildcats had been the three-time defending state champs.
“Even though we didn’t win the meet, we had more podium finishes than ever before,” Carolina Day coach Graeme McGufficke said. “It was a really exciting meet.”