It was home, sweet home at the Hampton Pool on Wednesday night as a strong relay performance helped the Hammerheads edge crosstown rivals Stoneleigh Sharks in the Freestate Swim League championship, 258 to 245.
The championship is Hampton's first in a decade, and second for coach Liz Harlan, who coached the Hammerheads from 1996 to 2000 and returned in 2010.
Stoneleigh was Hampton's only loss last year.
"Getting the chance to win at home in our pool was a big advantage, and it really came down to the last relay," Harlan said.
Harlan said the core of the group is in the 15- to 18-year-olds.
"They lead all the cheers, they lead a lot of spirit activities with the team. The teenage guys, they're really the heart of the team," she said. "They go and psych up the little guys."
Last year, the teens got the team to make superhero capes together. This time, they needed a different kind of heroics. The Hammerheads took four of the five relays at the end of the night for the come-from-behind win.
Harlan singled out the speedy Alex Blair, 12, who powered to victory in the 50-meter butterfly and was "really a key reason wy we won the relays in the end."
She also called out swimmers Kevin Blum and Peerce Nozeieka. She described Nozeieka, who took second in the 9- to 10-year-old 100 Individual Medley and had a part in the final freestyle relay, as "a scrappy fighter, he's always one who can pull it out in the end."
Check out the full scorecard attached to this article.
Harlan also thanked assistant coaches Maggie Mulderrig and Taylor Blum and junior coach Melissa Dorsch, who also swam in the race.
"So many things in the end came down to finishes," Harlan said. The kids totally believed in themselves and everything they had worked so hard for at the end of the year."