Swimmers prepare for final test

Senior+Braden+Hunt+enjoys+the+state+send-off+through+the+halls+of+the+school+Feb.+13+before+the+boys+and+girls+swim+teams+left+for+the+state+championship+meet+in+Austin.+

Bella Cruz

Senior Braden Hunt enjoys the state send-off through the halls of the school Feb. 13 before the boys and girls swim teams left for the state championship meet in Austin.

Kathleen Ortiz, Photographer Editor

For the eighth year in a row the boys swim team has won the Region Championships. Now they’re off to the UIL State meet.
“They were on fire at Regions,” girls swim coach John Dissinger said. “They have their eyes on the big trophy in Austin. It’s going to be fun and nerve racking watching.”
The boys team and a number of girls qualified for the 5A State Championships, which will be held this weekend at the University of Texas in Austin. While they have been among the top finishers the past few years, the last time the boys won the 5A State Championship was 2015.
The girls also have a couple of relays competing, along with freshman Carlie Solomon. In January, Solomon and senior Lauren Ives were named co-Swimmers of the Meet at the District Championships.
“I’m proud of how the girls kept fighting even though there were some disappointments in early swims,” Dissinger said.
For the boys, senior Braden Hunt was named Swimmer of the Meet at districts. He then placed second in the 50 and 100 freestyle at the Region Meet to advance to the State Meet in both events. It was the first time he had ever placed higher than fifth at regionals.
“It can be really hard sometimes, having four hours of practice most days, but I always tried to go and miss rarely,” Hunt said. “That consistency of working hard led to me being able to swim much faster.”
There was much to celebrate during the Region Meet, including a record-breaking time in the 400 free relay by seniors Tyler Scott, Brendan Flaherty, and juniors Logan Rushing and Frankie Zelasko. The 10-year-old record had previously been held by Mark Dix, Chris Amoruso, Barrett Johannsen and Joseph Stanton. This year’s time of 3:08.66 was 10 seconds faster than the second-place team at the Region Meet. They enter the State Championships as the top-seeded relay.
“It was a great accomplishment,” boys swim coach Greg McLain said. “We are very good at the sprints this year, which also gives us competitive relays.”
The boys are making their 13th-consecutive appearance at the State Meet.
“This has been our motivation all year as we knew that winning state was a very real possibility, and to see our efforts becoming closer to a realization provides even greater motivation,” Hunt said.
Alamo Heights, Georgetown and Frisco Wakeland are all expected to challenge Kingwood Park for the top spot.
“The biggest challenge in getting that goal will be for everyone to swim what we need in order to get the greatest points possible,” Hunt said. “Many of us need to drop time in order to secure the first-place title; and with many people in tenths of seconds from each other, one mistake changes a lot.”
Now that the Region Meet is over, they are preparing for the UIL State Meet by tapering in practices and shaving prior to the big meet — traditions they hope helps them add speed and give them an extra edge. Their eyes are on a championship.
“The entire team has been tremendous in their work this year,” McLain said. “This is the weekend they work all year for.”