Head Coach Brendan Lees Guides Sherwood Swim to Banner Season
Ever since Brendan Lees came to Sherwood High School, the girls swim program has been one of the strongest in the state. Coming into this season, the Warriors had won four straight MPSSAA 4A/3A north region titles. In addition to the region titles, Sherwood had finished second at the 4A/3A state meet in 2013 and 2015.
While the team enjoyed a lot of success, a state championship eluded the Warriors. The team got extremely close in 2015, finishing second behind Churchill. This led to a little added motivation for Sherwood this season.
"We fell short at the end of that meet but after getting a taste of being so close to first that really motivated the returning swimmers for this year and also helped them get our new freshmen excited to compete for a metros and state title," Lees said.
Looking back on this past season, it's safe to say that Sherwood more than came through. In addition to winning a fifth straight 4A/3A north regional championship, the Warriors also finished first at the two biggest meets of the year for Montgomery County swim teams- the DC Metros and the state championship meet. Both were firsts in Sherwood's swimming history.
On the boys side, Sherwood won its first 4A/3A north regional championship. The team placed 16th at the state finals.
The girls team had many standout performers, but senior duo Morgan Hill and Margarita Ryan led the way for the Warriors. The two's ability to routinely perform at the highest level at the biggest meets of the year aided Sherwood in their quest for postseason hardware.
Hill captured three metro championships and four state titles, setting state meet records in the 50 free and 100 free. She also was a member of both relay teams which set state meet records.
Ryan also had a strong senior year campaign which was capped off with an excellent performance at the state championship meet. Like Hill, she was a member of both relay teams, while also finishing fourth in both the 100 fly and 100 backstroke.
While the two were huge contributors in the pool, they were also key for Sherwood in other ways.
"Morgan and Margarita were also two of our three captains this year that did an amazing job leading our team all season long," Lees said. "We had a good amount of freshmen come on the team this year and contribute to our state title. Morgan and Margarita helped them be a huge part of our team's success and have fun in the process."
The team's championship at the metros competition was arguably a more impressive feat than the state championship. Metros, which was in its 52nd iteration this year, features Maryland public schools and every private school in the Washington DC area. The Warriors had three first place finishes at this year's competition, making it a total of eight first place finishes at the metros during Lees's time at Sherwood.
"This area obviously has really good athletes at private schools so it makes it an extremely competitive meet and a huge accomplishment for Sherwood to win the team title," Lees said.
The two big wins capped off a year that was deserved not just for Sherwood swim's team, but also Lees. The Fairport, NY native has put together quite the resume during his tenure at Sherwood, which includes coaching nine different individual state champions, as well as four relay state champions. His swimmers have picked up numerous postseason accolades, such as six 1st team Washington Post All-Met and 19 All-American event qualifiers. On the team front, he's also coached Sherwood to five MCPS division championships.
Lees's influence is not limited to the girls team. He had one male swimmer make 1st team All-Met and had five All-American qualifiers.
"I always talk about making sure they are working on the little things every day in practice so that they don't have to think about it during races," Lees said. "Always working on good turns, starts, underwater kicking, breakouts, finishes, breathing patterns etc. All of those things add up in a race."
Lees draws motivation for coaching from his time as a swimmer. In high school, he was a member of four New York state championship winning teams, and got a chance to swim at the University of Delaware. He's still close friends with many of his peers from those teams, which makes him want to create a fun atmosphere for his swimmers at Sherwood so they can create those same bonds.
That, along with the opportunity to help young people grow through the sport of swimming, is what Lees enjoys most about coaching.
"I love how the sport of swimming teaches you great life lessons that hard work pays off and also things don't always go the way you want them to go, but it's important to reflect on what didn't go well and improve on that in the future" Lees said. "As a coach, I love that I can help my swimmers experience these same great things that have helped shape me into who I am to this day."
|March 3rd, 2016||By: Wick Eisenberg|