Hundreds of swimmers are descending upon London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, but the sport also enjoyed a crowning moment in the local summer season this week in Hampstead.
On Wednesday, July 25, a group of nearly 1,000 swimmers competed in the Central Maryland Swim League Straehle championship meet, and a handful of Carroll County athletes took home gold, silver and bronze medals — at least some with aspirations of one day mirroring their counterparts across the pond.
"I want to go to the Olympics," said Allison Tomsuden, 10, a swimmer from South Carroll who swims during the winter at the same North Baltimore Aquatic Club that has produced Olympians Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff. "(Winning) makes me feel special."
The Straehle meet is the largest single-session swim meet in Maryland, according to Mike Kremer, the meet director, president of Carroll Aquatics and head coach of the host Blue Sharks swim team.
"We have over 1,000 cars that come in here, and a total of about 3,000 people between swimmers and spectators," Kremer said.
On a sunny and mild afternoon, three county teams won medals in 56-event competition that featured 48 squads from Baltimore City and its five surrounding counties.
South Carroll Swim Club, which finished fourth in the overall competition, led all county teams with 12 medals. The Carroll Aquatics Blue Sharks captured 10, including a county-leading four golds, on the way to ninth place.
Westminster Riding Club, which finished 13th in the team standings, took home three silver and two bronze medals.
The South Carroll team got a big boost from Timothy Tomsuden and his sister Allison. Together they combined for three golds, four silvers and a bronze.
Dan Moreno of the Carroll Aquatics Blue Sharks won three gold medals and a silver in the boys' 15-and-over competition.
Timothy Tomsuden, swimming in the 13-14 division, finished first in the 100-meter individual medley and 50 backstroke. The 14-year old, who placed second in the 50 backstroke, was pleased with his performance.
"The Carroll County meet (on July 18) let me see where I was with my times, and what I needed to improve on," said Timothy, a rising freshman at Loyola Blakefield High School who anticipates swimming for the Dons this winter. "Today, I made sure that all those things were corrected and I could have a good shot at winning everything. I want to go in there and get as many records as I can, and make a legacy that lasts."
While Timothy had a productive day, he barely outpaced his younger sister.
Allison Tomsuden was dominant in the 9-10 division, winning gold in the 50 freestyle and taking second in the 25 backstroke and 25 butterfly events.
Timothy and Allison also anchored medal-winning performances in both 200 freestyle relay events. Allison helped South Carroll to a second-place finish, and Timothy swam the final leg for the relay team that won a bronze medal. Matthew McGoey was also a key part of the South Carroll effort, earning second in the 100 IM and a pair of third-place finishes in the 50 backstroke and 200 freestyle relay.
The Tomsuden triumphs continued a strong family swimming tradition. Laura and Drew Tomsuden were collegiate swimmers at Frostburg State, and their four children have become immersed in the sport.
"They're all very motivated," said Laura Tomsuden, who also watched sons Matthew and Christopher post top-five finishes for South Carroll. "Day in and day out, they get in the water and really work hard. They deserve to get out of it what they put into it, and I couldn't be more proud of them."
While the Tomsudens were dominating the younger age groups, Moreno was conquering the competition in the 15-and-over division. The rising senior at Loyola Blakefield High School finished in a second-place tie in the 100 IM, then won the 100 freestyle and 50 butterfly.
In one of the day's most exciting finishes, Moreno won the Blue Sharks' first gold medal of the competition by outracing Westminster Riding Club's Austin Butts and Christopher Ratliff of the South Carroll Swim Team in a county sweep of the 100 freestyle.