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HISTORY

 

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE WESTCHESTER "COUNTIES"

     In 2000, the Westchester County Swimming Association, in cooperation with the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation, hosted the 75th Annual Westchester County Swimming and Diving Championships at Playland Pool in Rye, and at the Sprain Ridge Pool in Yonkers, respectively. The championships were begun in 1926 and the W.C.S.A. was organized in 1929. This was the only countywide championships that included both competitors who swim as members of a club as well as individuals who had no club affiliation. We believe that it is the oldest swimming and diving championship to be held continuously in the eastern United States.

     Over the past decade, this event has had a resurgence. The number of member teams has increased from 40 to a high of 53 in 2003 and the number of entries has increased 25%. There are currently over 1800 swimmers and divers from all over Westchester County who are registered with the W.C.S.A. In 1999, approximately 950 individuals competed, of which 159 received an award for their individual achievements.

     There have been few changes in the events swum in the meet. This is a unique meet that is swum in a 50-yard pool, which dictates the length of several of the swimming races. Individual Medley events must be 200 yards in length and the shortest event can be 50 yards. Therefore, the youngest age group for the swimming events is 10 and under. However, there are several seven and eight year-old swimmers who compete within that age group. 10 and under relays were introduced within the past decade. These relay events and the 200 yard Individual Medley events are swum as timed finals, which means that the competitors only need to swim the event once and the results are based on that one official time. In all other swimming events, competitors vie in the trials for eight slots in a final that is swum later in the evening.

     Competitors from past championships include Olympic Medalists Bobby Hackett (who won the boys individual high point in 1970), Rick Carey, Lea Loveless Maurer, and Cristina Teuscher.

     Several special awards are handed out which commemorate the volunteers that help this meet to run. Trophies named for local individuals renowned for swimming or diving expertise include Stephen E. Johnston, Al & Dot Buncher, Willis Cooling, Barbara Cunningham Leichtweis, Leo J. Butler, Jack Ryan, and Ed Riley.

     The Playland pool has hosted the meet for over 50 years. In 1994, the pool was repainted using W.C.S.A. funding to change the configuration to eight lanes. Now we are able to award medals to the top eight competitors rather than the six finalists of the past.

     The meet is run by a large group of volunteers with the assistance of the County staff members at each pool. Several of the officials and scorekeepers have volunteered for over 20 years each. Timers are generally parents of the competitors and the diving judges are member team coaches.

     This meet has always been held with the competitors in mind. As the Donald McGeachin Founder's Trophy description reads, "the most important aspect of the Association was the participation and enjoyment of the children".