Piranhas attack the competition, bring home 30 medals

Ryan Stevenson, grade 6 at Patch Middle School, of Stuttgart Piranhas competing at the EFSL Long-Distance Individual Championship goes on to break team records in all three of his individual events. Photo by David Broer

By Ami DeBrine

The Stuttgart Piranhas Swim Team recently attended the European Forces Swim League Individual Long-Distance Championship in Lignano, Italy. Because the distances involved are much longer than those typically swum in a regular competition, a separate championship meet is held each November.  In order to qualify for this competition, swimmers had to achieve a top time in their event and age bracket.

Piranhas’ Headcoach Andrea Symak, provides guidance to Ryan Stevenson prior to one of his events. Photo by Zoe Kalinowski

The long distance meet, held Nov. 24-25, featured more than 390 individual entries from 15 teams throughout Europe, with Stuttgart sending 22 swimmers. In the end, Piranhas swimmers broke four team records and brought home more than 30 medals (places 1 through 6), including seven gold, 13 silver, and four bronze.

For Piranhas girls age 15, Alexia Symak was the big winner, taking first place in all three of her events; 800m free, 400m IM and 1500m free.

“It’s not always easy waking up at 4 am each day for practice, but in the end it’s always worth it once you get that gold medal,” Symak said.

Ryan Stevenson (boys age 11) who was swimming in his first long distance championship, broke Piranhas’ team records in all three of his individual events; 400m free, 1500m free, and 400m IM.

“When in doubt, keep swimming,” Stevenson said. ”The finish is always getting closer.”

The other team record to fall was broken by Madison Bratton (girls age 11) in the 400m free.

Alexia Symak, age 15 of Stuttgart High School, wins gold in all of her individual events in Lignano, Italy at the EFSL Long-Distance Individual Championship. Photo by Zoe Kalinowski

Piranhas who placed in the top three in their age groups are:

  • Brooke Bailey, girls age 15 – second in 800 free and 400 IM
  • Madison Bratton, girls age 11 – first in 1500 free, second in 800 free, and third in 400 IM
  • Zoey Bratton, girls age 13 – third in 1500 free
  • Kevin DeBrine, boys age 17 – third in 800 free
  • Kurt Huebschman, boys age 17 – second in 800 and 1500 free and third in 400 IM
  • Ella Kalinowski, girls age 12 – second in 800 free, 400 IM, and 1500 free
  • Kyle Stevenson, boys age 14 – first in 800 free and second in 400 IM and 1500 free
  • Ryan Stevenson, boys age 11 – first in 1500 free and second in 400 free and 400 IM
  • Alexia Symak, girls age 15 – first in 800 free, 400 IM, and 1500 free
  • Jazlyn Symak, girls age 9 – second in 400 free
  • Madeleine Varhola, girls age 9 – first in 400 free

The Piranhas will continue to participate in regional swim meets throughout the winter as they set their sights on defending their title in Berlin as Rheinland Division champions.