Last weekend's District 1 Swimming Championships at LaSalle University in Philadelphia proved to be a golden experience for a number of local high school athletes.
For Kennett's Ryan Lynn, the two days of competition could also be summed up as outstanding.
The Blue Demons' sophomore standout captured district titles in the Class AA meet in two events: the 200-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle. In addition to those gold medals, Lynn was named "Outstanding Swimmer of the Meet" for the entire Class AA field.
"He's the best male swimmer we've ever had -- for sure," said Kennett head coach Mike Replogle. "Winning at districts is nice for him and it's a real nice accomplishment, but his goal is to win up at states.
"He trains real hard -- six, seven days a week. He has goals and he stays focused on them. A state championship would be pretty special for him. I think he's got a good shot [in both events]. There's not a time in the state I've seen that he can't beat."
Unionville High School's boys' team also had a weekend to remember.
The Indians had two swimmers return home with Class AAA district titles: junior John Austin (50-freestyle) and sophomore Brent Sanderson (100 breaststroke).
Austin earned a silver medal in the 100-freestyle as well, while junior Jonathan Wertz placed third in the 100-backstroke and fourth in the 100-fly.
All of that translated into an impressive sixth place finish for Unionville in the Class AAA team standings.
"We didn't have quite as many guys go to districts this year, but two firsts, a second, a third and a fourth is pretty good," said Austin. "We've all worked really hard this season, and we're proud of what we accomplished."
Lynn led Kennett to a seventh place finish in the Class AA standings.
He won the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 1:46.10 and crushed the field in the 500-yard freestyle. Lynn's time in that event, 4:45.91, was a whopping 13 seconds ahead of the second place swimmer.
Lynn also won districts titles in both those events last year as a freshman.
Kennett received a seventh place finish at districts from Nate Payne in the 100-backstroke. In addition, Lynn and Payne teamed with Nathan Budishak and Henry Frank to place seventh in the 200-medley relay.
The Lady Blue Demons also had a strong 19th place showing in the Class AAA meet.
Debbi LaRue was seventh in the 50-free and qualified for states. LaRue, Regan Jaros, Allison Rozsits and Lauren Rozsits broke the school record in the 400-free relay by seven seconds and narrowly missed making states in that event.
"I was really proud of the way the girls performed," said Replogle. "Their finish was really, really impressive."
Unionville's weekend started off well on Friday, as Austin won the 50-freestyle in 21.47 seconds.
"I would say it was the best race I ever swam," said Austin, who set a personal best time on his way to capturing that event. "I was a little bit surprised but going into the race I knew it was going to be tight, everyone's times were real close. My goal was just to make it to states.
"I had a good start and a good turn. I pretty much gave it everything I had. The first three or four guys all finished within three or four tenths of a second. It was a very close race and it felt great to win it. I've worked very hard the last couple of years and it really paid off."
A day after Austin's gold medal swim, Unionville claimed another individual district title as Sanderson set a personal best time of 59.11 seconds to finish first in the 100 breaststroke.
"I was ecstatic about winning it," said Sanderson. "I was really pumped up before hand. I knew I was seeded fourth so I had confidence that I could win if I put my mind to it. I was very pleased with my performance this past weekend."
Lynn qualified for the PIAA Class AA Swimming Championships on March 17 and 18 at Bucknell University.
Meanwhile Austin, Sanderson and Wertz also made it to states in their individual events with top-four finishes at districts. The PIAA Class AAA Swimming Championships will be held on March 15 and 16 at Bucknell.
Unionville sophomore Jake Nalls also qualified for states as he teamed with Austin, Sanderson and Wertz to place fifth in the 200-medley relay and seventh in the 200-free relay.