By Jan Childs
The Stuttgart Piranhas Swim Team set 33 new team records and brought home more than 20 first place medals from the recent European Forces Swim League (EFSL) Championships in Eindhoven, Netherlands. The event Feb. 27-28 included more than 400 swimmers from 18 teams throughout the EFSL. Fifty-seven Piranhas qualified for champs by swimming top times at meets throughout the season.
The biggest winners in the girl’s races were Ella Bathurst and Ariana Lewis.
Bathurst took first place in all eight of her events for girls age 12: 100-meter IM, 50-meter butterfly, 50-meter breaststroke, 200-meter freestyle, 200-meter IM, 50-meter freestyle, 50-meter backstroke and 100-meter freestyle.
Bathurst has dominated the EFSL league for two seasons, breaking nearly every league and team record along the way.
Swim is a family affair for Bathurst, whose parents both help coach the team and whose brother, Dane, placed second in both the 50-meter breaststroke and 50-meter freestyle for boys age 8.
In the 15-16 age group, Lewis placed first in the 100-meter freestyle, 400-meter freestyle, 50-meter freestyle and 200-meter freestyle and 200 IM. She took second in the 100-meter backstroke and third in 100-meter butterfly and 100-meter breaststroke.
Lewis’ victories were bittersweet, as the championships marked the end of eight seasons on EFSL teams. She previously swam for the Sigonella Swordfish and the Naples Tiger Sharks.
Lewis’ family left Stuttgart the day after the championship meet to head to their new duty station in Bahrain.
She said she is grateful for the time she had to develop her swimming skills in the ESFL, and remembers her first year in Sigonella when, at eight years old, she qualified for champs at the last minute.
“At the time, I was so happy and motivated to keep swimming more,” Lewis said. “When I was in Naples, I found what events I liked and wanted to work on, but I also tried other strokes and long distance. Now here in Stuttgart, I found my motivation, joined a German team also, figured out what I really want to swim and, now as a sophomore, finding out which college I want to go to for swimming.”
On the boy’s side, the youngest Piranhas brought home a slew of medals.
Teddy Benard won the most points for his age group overall and placed first in the 100 IM, 200 IM and 50-meter breaststroke, as well as second in the 200-meter freestyle and third in 50-meter butterfly.
Benard and his parents didn’t realize he had scored the most points for his age group until the announcement was made at the award ceremony.
“I felt very proud when they handed me the trophy,” he said.
James Stewart, also in the boy’s eight and under age group, placed first in the 50-meter butterfly and 100-meter freestyle and third in the 100 IM, 50-meter back stroke, 50-meter freestyle and 200 freestyle.
Other Piranhas who placed in the top three in their age groups were:
Skye Andros, girls age 9 – first in 50 fly.
Jacob Benard, boys age 11 – Second in 50-meter breaststroke and third in 200-meter freestyle, 50-meter backstroke, 100-meter freestyle, 50-meter freestyle, 200 IM and 100 IM.
Zoey Bratton, girls age 11 – second in 200 free and 200 IM, third in 50 back, 100 free and 100 IM.
Conan Cunningham, boys age 10 – second in 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, and 50 back, third in 200 IM.
AJ Groppel, boys age 9 – first in 50 free, second in 50 back, 100 free
100 IM, 50 breast, and 200 free.
Kaela Groppel, girls age 12 – second in 50 breast.
Maddie Koning, girls age 15-16 – first in 100 fly, second in 100 free, 400 free, and 200 free.
Regan Lee, girls age 17-19 – third in 100 free, 100 fly, 200 IM, and 50 free.
Annelise Meyer, girls age 17-19 – second in 100 free, third in 400 free, 100 back and 200 free.
Greta Mott, girls age 9 – second in 50 back, third in 100 free
Alexia Symak , girls age 13-14 – second in 100 free, 200 free, 400 free, and 200 IM, third in 50 free.
Julia Tlapa, girls age 15-16 – second in 100 breast.
Andrew Walsh, boys age 12 – third in 50 free and 100 free.
Rounding out the Piranhas champs team were: Piper Andros, Brooke Bailey, Tommy Benard, Alexia Bezner, Emanuella Bezner, Paul Bezner, Jacob Blaser, Carly Bratton, Connor Bratton, Madison Bratton, Lucy Chapman, Rian Childs, Alex Dotson, Kiersten Koning, Brennan Lee, Kieran Lee, Ella Long, Ashley McKinney, Kirsten Meyers, Alena Miller, Alex Miller, Caroline Morgan, Joseph Morrow, Anna Mott, Kevin Rapp, Daniella Ratliff, Karolina Ratliff, Trey Riley, James Riley, Mia Sanders, Matthew Shumate, William Stewart, Jazlyn Symak, Kate Tlapa, Kimble Uddenberg, Andrew Walsh, Aidan Ward, Ellis Ward, Jordan Webb and Lena White.