GRANITE CITY — Not even the rain could slow down the Summers-Port Sharks on their way to a 23rd consecutive Southwestern Swim Association title.
The Sharks swept the boys' and girls' divisions to outdistance second-place and host Paddlers Swim Club of Granite City. The Sharks finished with 2,354 points, while the Paddlers (1,746 points), Water Works (1,744.5), Splash City (1,364.5) and Sunset Hills (600) rounded out the standings.
Sunday's victory comes a day after Summers-Port won the diving competition.
"There were three things that I was asking for: 100 percent effort every race, no disqualifications and great sportsmanship. We had a couple of DQs, but with 85 kids swimming you have to expect that,"
Summers-Port coach Nancy Miller said. "It was a very great day for our kids."
Matthew Daniel led the way for the Sharks, who had to wait an hour to start competition Sunday along with the rest of the teams due to thunder.
Daniel, one of five high-point champs for Sharks, won the 200-meter freestyle (1:59.88), 100-meter individual medley (1:06.29) and 50-meter butterfly (28.01) in the men's 15-18 division.
He was also part of the 200-meter medley and 200-meter freestyle relay teams that won.
Caden Akal (13-14 boys), Jake Roth (11-12 boys), Noah Clancy (13-14 boys), Cole Akal (15-18 men) and Edward Roberts (11-12 boys) each won multiple events for the boys.
The boys' team finished with 1,196 points, beating out the second-place Pirates, who had 1,196 points.
Anna Moehn (11-12 girls) was the only female Shark to win multiple events. She captured the 100-meter freestyle (1:09.97), 100-meter IM (1:19.07) and 50-meter backstroke (36.19) for the Sharks, who won 29 individual events.
Moehn's performance helped the Sharks swim to 1,158 points for first place in the girls' division. Water Works was second with 1,060.5 points.
The Sharks had 11 relay victories.
"It's important to have the balance and depth. It's the magic combination," Miller said.
Sunday's victory was the culmination of a long season for the Sharks, who fought with the wet weather to find time for meets and practices.
Miller said the progression of her swimmers from the first day of practice to the title victory was what keeps her coming back.
"It is pure joy and why I coach," Miller said of seeing the progression of her swimmers from the first day. "We go to practice, where it isn't easy, and have little kids tolerate the pain and overcome that. It's very gratifying to me to see that."
The host Pirates, meanwhile, enjoyed a strong day.
"We had a lot of individual best times, which is what we have been shooting for the whole season. I think overall we did a good job," Granite City coach Celeste Furmanek said. "Swimming here at home helps a lot. The kids know the wall, turns and there are a lot of people here cheering them on."
Evan Brewer, in the 8 and under boys' division, had a standout day for Paddlers Swim Club. He was the high-point champion for his age division.
Brewer took first in the 25-meter freestyle (17.79) and 50-meter freestyle (41.64).
Other individual champions for Granite City were: Emily Webb (13-14 girls' 200-meter freestyle, 2:25.49), Brady Smallie (9-10 100-meter freestyle, 1:28.95), Alivia Upshaw (9-10 100-meter individual medley, 1:40.74), Maia Cain (15-18 women individual medley, 1:11.80), Wyatt Loftus (9-10 50-meter breaststroke, 50.41) and Noah Cain (13-14 100-meter breaststroke, 1:23.24).
The Pirates also won the 9-10 boys 200-meter medley and 200-meter freestyle relays.
More important than the number of first-place finishes, though, were the times set by the swimmers.
Furmanek said her staff really tries to put an emphasis on individual times as opposed to placement.
"I try to stress to our kids not to look who they are swimming against, and that usually turns them into swimming a faster time," she said. "That's all I want them to do."
Times were not the only thing that were squashed throughout the season. In some instances, the fear of water was also overcome.
"We had 6-year-old swimmers in the relays that couldn't put their face in the water eight weeks ago," Furmanek said. "That's fun to watch, because they always improve so much as the season goes on."