The Otters’ first place finish was their first Cherry Bowl championship in 19 years. Erlton finished in second place and Willowdale finished in third place.
Old Orchard Swim Club’s 50th anniversary year just became a historical one for its swim team.
After sweeping through the C Division in the Tri-County Swimming Pool Association regular season, the Old Orchard Otters snagged the spotlight at the 2016 Cherry Bowl, winning the team title for a record 21st time. Old Orchard defeated the two-time defending champion Erlton Gators by just 29 points in the final standings to win the team’s first Cherry Bowl title since 1997.
“We really came together.” head coach Chris Brookover said following the meet. “We went 5–0, we’re moving up (to B Division in TCSPA), we had a storybook season.”
The achievement was monumental for Old Orchard, a club who had tons of success in the Cherry Bowl during the 1980s and mid-1990s, but had plenty of middle of the pack finishes during the early part of the 2000s. The team did rebound in recent years, finishing in third place in 2014 and 2015.
Brookover admitted the victory was a bit of a surprise, but added the Otters have exceeded expectations in every meet in 2016.
“Every time I want to tell you that they’re going to do this or going to do that, they come up and surprise me,” Brookover said.
Old Orchard led the team standings for most of the meet, but was unable to build a huge lead over the competition. They entered the final series of events, the freestyle relays, just a point ahead of Erlton. The Gators took the lead in the team standings after their 8-and-under boys 100-meter freestyle relay team won their event.
About 20 minutes later, however, Erlton’s lead disappeared when their 15–18 girls’ freestyle relay team was hit with a disqualification in the second-to-last event. The disqualification meant the Gators finished the event with 0 points. The Otters’ 15–18 girls’ freestyle relay team won the event, giving Old Orchard a 32-point boost and putting the Otters back in first place for good.
Brookover said Old Orchard’s title was the result of strong swimming from both the younger and older kids. Eight different swimmers won individual events for the Otters. This included J.D. Moyer, who won the boys’ 9–10 25-meter butterfly with a time of 0:15.25, breaking the event record set by Covered Bridge’s Kevin King in 2005. Another Otter, Megan Miller, also broke a Cherry Bowl record in the girls’ 15–18 100-meter breaststroke, only to finish in second place to Downs Farm’s Kendall Bromley.
Old Orchard wasn’t the only team to leave Cherry Bowl with hardware. Despite missing out on a third straight first place finish at Cherry Bowl, Erlton still brought home the second place trophy and recorded a top-3 finish for the ninth consecutive year. Winning the third place trophy was the Willowdale Dolphins, who had their best finish in a Cherry Bowl since finishing in second place in 1988.
At the conclusion of the meet, members of the Old Orchard swim team and the coaching staff followed Cherry Bowl tradition and jumped into the pool to celebrate their achievement. For Brookover, the jump into the pool was unlike any other.
“That’s best dip in the pool I’ve ever taken,” he said.