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A Standout Season for Reston Swimmers

Glade and Autumnwood rally together for some friendly competition.

Hannah Douglas of Autumnwood cheers on teammate Jordana Sweeney during the girls’ 11-12 100-meter medley relay.

Hannah Douglas of Autumnwood cheers on teammate Jordana Sweeney during the girls’ 11-12 100-meter medley relay. Julie Iannone

The Fourth of July was not the only spirited event this past weekend. On July 6 the pool was packed with spectators as the Glade Gators took on the Autumnwood Piranhas during the fifth swim meet of the season. Car windows were laden with paint and homemade posters lined the fences. The energy from each team was certainly palpable, but never adversarial. There have been numerous hard fought wins and broken records this summer, but the Reston Swim Team Association holds community in the highest regard.

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From Glade, Amy Smith and her son Erik, 9, look forward to the next event.

By mid-morning the competition could not have been closer, with Glade beating Autumnwood by just one point. During a five-minute break the children erupted into a pool-wide cheering battle. “This is the essence of RSTA,” observed Autumnwood coach Jimmy Luehrs in the midst of the excitement. “RSTA is a fun league. It’s not all about winning. This team is really tight and there are a lot of friendships. I’m really looking forward to the kids continually improving and making connections for the future.”

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Autumnwood swimmers Hannah Douglas, 11, and Jordana Sweeney, 11, gear up for the next race.

Trish Heatherly, mother of Glade swimmers Katie, 18, Rachel, 17, and Olivia, 14, was on a similar page saying, “I think the whole season’s a highlight. It’s all about the fun, the competition, the Saturday mornings coming to meet people from all over Reston, and the kids have a great time. It’s just fun all around.” Minutes before racing himself in the boys 15-18 category, Glade coach Andrew Draganov was asked what his favorite part of the season was. “Honestly, just getting to know all the kids, like my man Kyle over here,” he said, patting his younger teammate on the back.

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Team pride was on full blast with wall-to-wall artwork.

“Most of the time you’re not swimming, and we only organize things about half the time, so the rest of the time is just cheering and getting along with everyone.”

In the end Glade pulled ahead with a combined team score of 496 while Autumnwood trailed close behind with a score of 487.

Autumnwood swimmer Hannah Douglas, 11, proved to be less concerned about her opponents and more self-motivated. “I’m looking forward to beating my old times,” she said with a smile.

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Autumnwood coach Jimmy Luehrs holds up Paul Robertson, 9, to lead the team cheer.

“My favorite part is being able to hang out with my friends while swimming, which I really, really like.” Hannah and her teammate Jordana Sweeney, 11, both agreed that making new friends within the Reston area was one of the most rewarding outcomes of the entire season.