Story & Photos By: Brenten Gilbert

What better way for swim families to celebrate the 4th than with an exhibition all-star meet? This year, for the third annual Stars and Stripes Invitational, the Bridlewood Bridlewaves opened up their pool deck to five other PWSL teams for an action-packed, fun-filled, standing room only event that featured the top swimmers from each team, showcasing their strengths.

The Stars and Stripes Invitational is an exhibition meet that features all four swimming disciplines, medley relays, and a crescendo freestyle relay. Each team is allowed to bring one medley team for each age group and gender to swim in the relay and individual events. Swimmers will participate in their assigned discipline for both the relay and the individual event. For example, a swimmer competing in the backstroke event will also swim the backstroke leg of the medley relay. The crescendo relay will include one swimmer from each age group to swim freestyle regardless of their specific discipline.

For 2017, everything was bigger. Swimmers from Dominion Valley returned for their third year, joined by Kingsbrooke, Wellington, Ben Lomond, and Virginia Oaks to fill all six lanes for each event. Winning swimmers were recognized by receiving their medals during podium ceremonies at specific breaks. Brentsville District Supervisor Jeanine Lawson was on hand to distribute the medals and congratulate each swimmer throughout the meet.  Another staple of the meet, the teams collected several boxes of food and goods to donate to the Northern Virginia Family Service’s SERVE campus in Manassas.

Brentsville District Supervisor Jeanine Lawson congratulates Stars and Stripes winners with a medal on the awards podium

With added competition and energy filling the pool deck, the swimmers were fired up and their times showed it. Of the 52 events, an astonishing 23 resulted in new meet records – a few of which were broken by more than one swimmer. Record Breakers include the following:

Individual Freestyle events: Christopher Verosko (8&U Boys), Haley Edenberg (8&U Girls), Madalyn Witt (9-10 Girls), Will Ossenfort (13-14 Boys), and AJ Ross (15-18 Boys).

Individual Backstroke events: Ella Cypher (9-10 Girls), Christian Carroll & Sean Cloutier (11-12 Boys), Joshua Hochard (13-14 Boys), and Katie Luetkenhaus & Kaylee Benton (13-14 Girls)

Individual Breaststroke events:  Julia Mayes (8&U Girls), Calum O’Shea (9-10 Boys), Maecy Wells (9-10 Girls), Brandon Gardner (11-12 Boys), Stephen Gilbert (13-14 Boys), Ashleigh Farmerie (13-14 Girls), and Lauren Candlan (15-18 Girls)

Individual Butterfly events: Paul Querijero & Ryan Maynard (9-10 Boys), Boden Pearson (11-12 Boys), and Ethan Chi & Stephen Verosko (13-14 Boys).

The BWaves also broke Medley Relay records for 8&U Boys, 8&U Girls, and 13-14 Boys, while the Dominion Valley Sharks set a new mark for the 9-10 Boys Medley Relay.

Wellington swimmers get psyched up for their relay event.

When all was said and done, the BWaves led the medal count and points total, earning their third straight meet Championship trophy, with Kingsbrooke and Dominion Valley taking second and third place. More importantly, the Stars and Stripes Invitational was once again successful in providing a fun way for swimmers to compete and give back to the surrounding community. Plans are already underway for next year’s event.

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