Hamlet Swim Club (HSC), located in McLean, joined the NVSL in 1970. Known originally as the Sunfish, the team’s nickname changed to the “Green Feet” in the mid 1980’s. It comes from a “psych” practiced by the team years ago during its meets inspired by one of Hamlet’s favorite swimmers and coaches, Lisa Spooner.
Before each race three Hamlet swimmers would huddle with their coach, who would then spray paint a foot of one swimmer with green paint. Often, the fastest Hamlet swimmer in the heat would be the one with the green foot, which hopefully was visible to the opposing swimmers as they trailed behind in the race. Before some races, however, the coach would paint the foot of a slower swimmer green, in hopes that the opposing swimmers would focus on the green foot, while a faster swimmer surprised his or her opponents with a first place finish.
Although the team draws its swimmers from a relatively modest number of club members who live in the McLean Hamlet subdivision and nearby neighborhoods, the Green Feet have enjoyed considerable success in recent years in the NVSL. Through the years, the team spent time in each of Divisions 1 through 11, with the exception of Division 10. Highlights of the Green Feet’s rise through the divisions include winning the Division 6 Championship and Relay Carnival in 1997, a “feet” duplicated in 1999 with the capture of the Division 4 Championship and Relay Carnival.
Continuing their climb through the NVSL, the Green Feet swam in Division 2 during the 2000 and 2001 seasons. After finishing in third place in Division 2 in 2000, the Green Feet jumped to the top of Division 2 in 2001 and won both the Division 2 Championship and Relay Carnival, catapulting them to Division 1 in 2002 for the first time in the club’s history. The Green Feet swam in Division 1 during 2002 and 2003. The Green Feet concluded the first 50 years of NVSL in Division 2.
In the 1970s many of Hamlet’s best swimmers were in the older age groups. Bob Lucier set a record in the 15-18 50-meter free that stood for over 25 years. In the 1980s, as families with younger children started to move into the area the Swim Club serves, the team developed younger stars, who began to devote themselves to swimming year round. At one point Hamlet stars Joey Croft and Amy Batchelder held the NVSL records as 11-12 50-yard freestylers at the same time. Each won multiple victories in All-Star meets. Long-time star Stacey Sweetser ended her career in 1994 with an All-Star win in the 15-18 50-free. Mike Balint duplicated her performance in the 15-18 50-fly in his last NVSL All-Star event in 2003.
As with many teams the depth depended on having families with multiple swimmers, and HSC had many Crofts, Griffins, Devenoges, Spooners, Sliwinskis, Edmondsons, Hollywoods, Dions, Raethers, Cooks, Reynolds, Dowleys, Rubins, Balints, Matsons, Lane-Roberts, and Stevens-Palmers, among others. Today the names may be different, but one fact remains: many kids “grow up” on the team, starting first as “Little Feet” in B meets, advancing to “Big Feet” in A meets, and often going on to become assistant and/or head coaches.
In the 1990s, the growth in the size of the team to 150+ fueled the climb into the top divisions The team frequently saved its best performances for the All-Star Relay Carnival each year. There were many winning relays over the years, and top-ten team finishes even when the Green Feet were in Division 3. Perhaps the highlight was the girls’ mixed-age relay, which won the event from the second heat in 1999. The team of Sara Reynolds, Andrea Balint, Lauren Edmondson and Katie Kuga became only the second ever to break 2:00 in the event. In 2002 the boys’ mixed-age relay grabbed the league record in winning the Relay Carnival and then broke it again. Ryan Lichtenfels, Quinn Stevens-Palmer, brother Garrett, and Mike Balint cruised to a 1:53.28.
Hamlet has enjoyed some wonderful coaches over the years, including Jackie Lutz, Lisa Spooner, Mike Clark, Tyler Willoughby, Katie
Mankin, and Rich Gordon.
Throughout its 35-year history, many activities became “traditions,” eagerly embraced by swimmers each season. Perhaps the oldest such event is the annual trek to Kings Dominion amusement park closely followed by the slide show at the annual awards banquet. Begun first by the senior swimmers in the 1980’s, the slide show is now prepared by the assistant coaches. Friday pep rallies have many themes, but the most popular is the lip synch contest initiated about six years ago. Young and old participate enthusiastically.