DETROIT — Six-hundredths of a second.

That’s how close the Shamrocks of Novi Detroit Catholic Central came to winning the state Division 1 swim and dive championship.

In ye olden days, say, in 1896, when swimming was introduced as an Olympic sport, a race with such a minuscule difference, judged by the naked eye amidst all the splashing, might have been declared a tie.

Down through the decades, the demands of competitive swimming have led to all sorts of improvements in training and performance, including wave-killing gutters for pools, racing lane markers that also reduce turbulence, cameras for underwater study of strokes, large clocks visible to swimmers, and electrically operated touch and timing devices. Swimmers are their own judges when they touch the electronic pad.

A longer arm? A longer finger? An untrimmed fingernail?

Since 1972, all world records have been expressed in hundredths of a second.

The “world” about mid-afternoon last Saturday at the Holland Aquatic Center revolved around Catholic Central and Holland West Ottawa: the Shamrocks seeking their first-ever state swim title, having finished no higher than fifth in 2013; West Ottawa wanting to make up for finishing runner-up last year.

After 11 grueling events, West Ottawa led by a mere two points, 208-206, setting up the winner-take-all 400-yard freestyle relay.

Coach Jessica Stoddard called on her season-long, experienced quartet of sophomore Matthew Kozma, senior Bennett Loniewski, and juniors Mario McDonald and Conor Brownell. Their time was 3:05.90, compared to Ottawa’s 3:05.84. The final score was 248-240.

Shamrocks other Elite 8 finishers include:

  • Loniewski, sixth in 200-yard freestyle; sixth, 500-yard freestyle.
  • Kozma, fifth in the individual medley; seventh, 100-yard backstroke.
  • McDonald, third in 50-yard freestyle; fourth, 100-yard freestyle.
  • Brownell, sixth in the 50-yard freestyle; fourth, 100-yard butterfly.
  • Senior David DeBacker, fourth, 100-meter diving.
  • The 200-yard freestyle relay, third (McDonald, junior Brian Hussey, Loniewski, and Brownell).

Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice came in 10th in team standings with 116.5 points. Their Elite 8 swimmers were:

  • The only first for CHSL swimmers by senior Liam McDonnell, first in the 100 yard backstroke. He was seventh in 100-yard butterfly.
  • The 200-yard medley relay: fifth (McDonnell, sophomore Elijah Venos, freshman Ryker Rush, senior Jonah Venos).
  • Jonah Venos, eighth, 100-yard freestyle; seventh, 100-yard breaststroke.
  • Rush, fourth, 500-yard freestyle.


Detroit U-D Jesuit, 8th place (102.5 points); Warren De La Salle, 17th place (50 points)

U-D Jesuit’s Elite 8:

  • The 200-yard medley relay, fifth (sophomore Braden Quinn, junior Rudy Stonisch, freshman Cami Wilson, freshman Charlie Bruce).
  • Junior Cooper Drouillard, third, 100-yard butterfly.
  • Stonisch, seventh, 100-yard breaststroke.

De La Salle’s Elite 8:

  • Sophomore Joey Basha, fourth, 100-meter diving.
  • Senior Justin Huttenlocher, eighth, 100-meter diving.


Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, eighth (113.5 points)

Elite 8 finishers:

  • Junior Jerome Wiater, third, 200-individual medley; fourth, 100-yard breaststroke.
  • Sophomore Josh Zexter, seventh, 200-individual medley.
  • Junior Nicholas  Ludwig, eighth, 100-yard freestyle
  • The 400-yard freestyle relay, fourth (senior Alec Palo, Wiater, Ludwig, and senior Samuel Keoleian).