Covington teen competes in YMCA national swim meet


By Sheryl Roadcap

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COVINGTON — Covington teen, Drew Gessner, experienced a first with his Miami County YMCA swim team mate, Matthew Christenson, of Englewood, when they competed in the YMCA Long Course Swimming National Championship in July at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in North Carolina.

The national swim meet was held during the week of July 24-29 in Greensboro, North Carolina. This is the first time Gessner competed at nationals; Christenson has done so previously.

In order to swim at this meet, swimmers must have a qualifying time, said Gessner’s mother Kelly Thomas. Both Gessner, 17, also the son of Phillip Gessner, and Christenson, 18, qualified in the 50, 100, and 200 breaststroke at the championship swim meet at Miami University in Oxford in early July. Gessner also qualified in the 50 and 100 backstroke.

At the national championship, Christenson placed 30th in the 50 breast, 29th in the 100 breast, and 39th in the 200 breast. Gessner placed 55th in the 100 backstroke, and 21st in the 50 backstroke, with a time of 28.48.

Gessner qualified for finals in the 50 back, which was a first ever for the MCY team. Their coach, Jim Fulton, attended the meet as well, Thomas said.

“Before the race, I wasn’t all that particularly close. I knew I needed to have a really good race in order to qualify, and so when I did end up qualifying, I was really shocked, honestly. I was not expecting that very much. So, I was really excited to go, as well, but I was surprised,” Gessner said.

However, Thomas said she was surprised when he qualified, but didn’t think Gessner was. Thomas said her son knew right away he qualified, but it took her a few minutes longer to realize he made it, as she needed to look over her “heat sheet.” A heat sheet helps parents keep up with the swimmers and the various races.

Thomas said they are very proud of and excited for Gessner and Christenson. When asked how she felt in that moment, she said she was feeling all of the emotions of excitement, being proud -and nervous, at the same time.

“I was excited. It was a neat experience for me as well. I mean the facility there is just amazing; it’s crazy, it’s like an Olympic pool, if you want to be honest,” said Thomas.

“I was nervous (at nationals) but I was just happy to be there; I didn’t care as much about what happens. I had already done the hard work (to get there) and so I just decided to just have some fun and just kind of kept my mind off of it,” Gessner said. “I definitely thought I did good I set a new personal best in all my events. I did notice a couple of things I could have fixed especially when I watched the video of my race, I noticed a couple of things I could have improved upon, but overall, I was pretty happy with it.”

Gessner’s life-long, husband and wife coaches Jim and Pam Fulton, who between the two coach at the Miami County YMCA, and for the Covington High School swim team, also said they are very proud of both young men.

“We have had these boys as a part of a close-knit swim family at MCY swimming,” said Jim and Pam Fulton jointly by email. “Matthew has been with us for six years and Drew for 11 years swimming day in and day out through the winter and summer months, taking off only a couple months of the year. Both boys, as well as the rest of the Marlin team, are very encouraging to the younger swimmers and swimmers of all skill levels on the team. They are very embracing toward new swimmers to the Marlin family. They are both committed to their training and love hard work and even at the end of tough practices they are always found joyful and fellowshipping with the other team members for long after the work is done. This is why we as coaches continue to do what we do.”

Thomas also shared the following swim news: On July 22, the Tri-County Summer Swim League held their Championships In Coldwater. The Troy Dolphin Swim Team won the whole meet — the first time since 2014. The teams included in the Tri-County Swim league are: Troy Dolphin, Coldwater Cudas, St. Mary’s Seahawks, Celina Dolphins, Tecumseh Woods in Piqua placed fifth, St. Henry Stingrays, and New Breman Barracudas. Gessner set a new pool record during this meet. According to Thomas, the old record, 28.66, dates back to 1998; Gessner swam it in a 27.66.

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