The rambunctious crowd cheered in about three-minute intervals as swimmer after swimmer would finish the 24 events on the final day of the 2013 State Swimming and Diving Championships. For St. Michael’s swimmers Kirsten Sweers and Rachel Longone, and Los Alamos swimmer Sarah Lott, the intense competition supercharged their motors.
Sweers earned a bronze medal in the 100 butterfly by finishing with a time of 1:00.09, shaving off nearly a second from her finals qualifying time and to edge out Las Cruces’ Victoria Ehly. Sweers also medaled in the 100 yard backstroke later in the day.
“That was really cool,” she said. “I was just expecting to go a little faster but maybe not expecting to go higher [in placing]. It was really cool when you’re done with the race you look at the board and you see how well you did. I’m only a freshman, so I still have a lot of years of swimming, so I’m really excited for the years to come.”
Her teammate Longone finished in fourth place in the 100-yard breaststroke. She was all smiles once the event ended.
“I was excited going into it because I know a lot of the girls that I was going to be competing against and I know they’re all really good swimmers,” said Longone. “Every time I took a breath you could hear the [crowd] noise and it was really exciting. High school swimming is just loud and crazy.”
Not to be outdone, Lady Hilltopper Lott ensured she would also bring a bronze medal back to the north.
Lott, who had said entering the state competition that her best event was the 500-yard freestyle, shattered expectations when she finished in third place in the 200-yard freestyle. Her time of 1:55.48 was not only her personal best, but it was just 0:00.08 away from setting a new Los Alamos school record.
“Yeah, I heard after the fact,” Lott said. “It makes me sad but it’s motivating … hopefully I can get it.”
The freshman will have three more years to improve upon that time and potentially break the school record. Lott also medaled in her favorite event, the 500-yard freestyle. She finished in fourth place with a time of 5:16.48.
Desert Academy senior swimmer Hannah Lochner also medaled in two events, placing seventh in the 100-yard breaststroke, and eighth in the 100-yard butterfly — which is an accomplishment in its own right considering her allegiances.
Lochner was one of eight Wildcats to represent the Class A school in the state championships, the biggest team the school has sent to state. And in swimming the small schools must compete alongside the “big boys.”
“We’re the only [Class] A school to ever get represented at state, and I think that might be what I love about my team the most,” said Lochner. “We fight all challenges because we’re against big schools like Eldorado [who won both the boys and girls state team titles] and we don’t take that so much to heart. We just show them what Desert Academy is and what a small school can do.”
A few Los Alamos swimmers also medaled on the boys’ side: Trey Pereya (500-yard freestyle), Connor Schultz (200-yard IM), and Sam Harris (100-yard butterfly).
All in all, it was an exciting day for northern swimmers, and a memorable one at that.