FAST swimmers host Culpeper

Submitted by Amy Williams  

The Fluvanna Aquatics Sports Team (FAST) hosted the Culpeper Country Club swim team at Fairview Swim Club Wednesday (June 19). FAST fielded just 43 swimmers, compared to the 82 sent by Culpeper. Despite having only slightly more than half the number of swimmers, FAST remained competitive, falling by just 95 points (426-521).  

Just as FAST’s 8andunder boys 100-meter freestyle relay team of Jacob Birckhead, Weston Mayhew, Reed Williams and RJ Crawford touched the wall to finish first in the initial race of the evening, lightning drove swimmers for cover.   

Once the band of storms had safely passed, the meet resumed with the individual medley (IM) races, in which Emma DiFazio, 17, grabbed first in the girls 15-18 100-meter IM. That win would set the stage for a successful night for Emma, who finished first in all her other races, including 50-meter backstroke, 50-meter butterfly and the 200-meter 15-18 freestyle relay, with teammates Joey Hagan, Amy Navarro and Elle Botkin. Emma has been swimming since age 4, but her passion lies in coaching younger swimmers. Between her winning races and a second brief weather delay, Emma could be found ushering FAST’s young swimmers to the start blocks and cheering their finishes. Assistant Coach Brennan King praised Emma for her leadership both in and out of the water. “She’s a great motivator for our team, he said.  

FAST has a large batch of upand-coming 8-andunder swimmers this season. Among them is Christian Gray, 7. Christian has been swimming only a few weeks, and Wednesday’s meet was his first. He swam cleanly in both his 25-meter freestyle and backstroke events. “Christian comes to swimming with a background in karate, baseball and basketball. He’s a natural athlete and 100 percent muscle. I’m super proud of him,” said King.   

Head Coach Nathan Johnson drew attention to siblings Ellie Sam, 12, and Joseph Sam, 15, whom he described as having great team spirit, always cheering on the younger swimmers, and being good leaders. After four years of swimming, the Sams have proven to be an integral part of FAST, always turning in solid performances in their respective age groups. Ellie, who in addition to swimming loves horses and photography, had an exceptional meet, with second place finishes in her 100-meter IM, 50-meter backstroke, and 13-14 200-meter freestyle relay, along with Shelby Crawford, Karsyn Botkin and Lexi Collier. She scored third in her 50-meter breaststroke. Joseph, who when not in the pool can be found on the soccer field, took third in his 50-meter breaststroke and backstroke events. He dropped 1.6 seconds to finish first in his 50-meter freestyle. Joseph and teammates Landon Mayhew, Jacob Thurston-Wells and Edwin Navarro finished second in the 200-meter freestyle relay.  

FAST hosted the Elks Tuesday (June 25). A group of FAST swimmers, coaches and parents will swim in Lake Monticello’s annual Swim across the Lake event held July 4. 

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