554th Engineers 3-peat as swim champs Print E-mail
Thursday, 09 March 2017
Image
Charles Zhou, 554th Engr. Bn., waits for a teammate to complete a lap to before diving in to complete the final leg of the 400-meter freestyle relay during the 2017 Commanderís Cup Swim Meet. The 554th Engr. Bn. team went on to win the meet Saturday at DFC.
 
Story and photos by Matt Decker
Assistant editor
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Image
The 554th Engr. Bn. swim team celebrates after receiving the 2017 Commanderís Cup Swim Meet championship trophy Saturday at DFC.
The 554th Engineer Battalion won its third consecutive post swimming title Saturday, claiming the 2017 Commander’s Cup Swim Meet championship trophy at the Davidson Fitness Center natatorium.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve competed in flag football, basketball, bowling and now the swim meet. Right now, (my favorite sport) is swimming, because I haven’t swam in 17 years,” said Waddell Tollison, who was the last swimmer in the water for the 554th as the anchor of its first-place 200-meter relay team. That team, whose members included Charles Zhou, Christine Zimmerman and Gordon Cooper, earned 26 points toward the unit’s meet-winning total  of 229.

Image
Gordon Cooper, 554th Engr. Bn., reaches for the wall as he completes the 100-meter backstroke competition. Cooper won the first heat with a time of 1:18.17.
Held annually, the Commander’s Cup Swim Meet is scored similarly to USA Swimming, with teams earning points for each swimmer who finishes in the top five in each event. Teams get nine points for a first-place finish, while earning seven points for second, six for third, and so on, with relay-event scores worth double points.

In addition to the medley relay, the 554th Engr. Bn. also took first place in the 50-meter butterfly, won by Cooper; the 100-meter backstroke, won by Zhou; the 50-meter breaststroke, led by Zimmerman; the 200-meter freestyle relay and the 200-meter freestyle, won by Nathaniel Bishop.

Image
Chae Soogyun, 14th MP Bde., takes a breath during the 100-meter breast stroke competition. Soogyun won the first heat with a time of 1:34.58.
The 1st Engineer Brigade took second overall with a total of 177 points. Among their first-place wins were the opening 400-meter freestyle relay and the 100-meter breaststroke, won by Wesley Constandse. Constandse also had the fastest time in the 50-meter breaststroke, winning the first heat, and also finished first in the 100-meter individual medley, in which the 1st Engr. Bde. and the 554th tied with 15 points each.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Constandse said. “I haven’t swam in a few years, so it’s definitely nice to get out and compete again.”

The 14th Military Police Brigade took third overall, finishing with 153 points. Its first-place finishes included the 100-meter freestyle and the 50-meter freestyle, both won by Sean Plunkett.

Image
Dean Frazee, 1st Engr. Bde., takes a breath as he competes in the second heat of the 50-meter freestyle event.
The 5th Engineer Battalion took fourth with 136 points, which included second-place finishes in both the 400-meter free relay and the 200-meter medley relay.

As in past years, this year’s meet attracted a variety of skill levels, from swimmers who had competitive experience in college or high-school programs to those competing for the first time. It was the first Commander’s Cup Swim Meet for Eric Ross, a member of the 554th Engr. Bn. team who competed in the 200-meter freestyle relay.

“This is my first (event),” Ross said. “I’ve been with 554 for a little while, but I was attached to (the Maneuver Support  Center of Excellence), so this is the first event I’ve done since last year. It’s going good.”

Participation was down this year, with only four teams competing compared to five teams last year. Still, Tollison said he felt it was an important event.

“To me, this is bringing our units together,” he said. “In our case, you have officers and enlisted (Soldiers) swimming together for the first time, and we’re doing great as a team.”