Swim team wins region, prepares for state competition

Swim team wins region, prepares for state competition

Members of the swim team huddle together after winning region Feb. 11. The boys’ and girls’ teams won first at region.

Story by Madison Sewell and Daniel Pellegrin, Staff Writers

Stands fill up quickly and the temperature seems to rise in correlation. Is it just nerves? The energy in the Magnolia High School natatorium is tangible. The pool sloshes against the deck floor as swarms of swimmers warm up in preparation for their perspective races. Tensions run high. The results of the preliminaries from yesterday are fresh on everyone’s mind. This is it. This decides who makes it to the next level, and who doesn’t.

This was the culmination of the 6 a.m. practices Monday through Friday every day and the after school practices. This was all those long hours of pain, tears and determination organized into a race less than 2 minutes long. This was the Region Five meet. The meet everyone had been training for. First place meant a golden ticket straight to state and second place left anxious anticipation for a trip down to the grand ole capitol of Austin for those able to make the call back times.

With 46 well-rounded swimmers and divers for the women and men’s teams, it was safe to say that the Tiger Sharks would be awarded another region victory.

“We looked really well going into the meet because we had been working hard all season,” senior Collin Hall said. “Everyone was showing significant improvement during taper. We were all ranked highly from district going into it.”

Qualifying for state, however, was a different matter. Only two tiger sharks, senior Matt Cox and sophomore Madeleine Pellegrin walked away with gold hardware in the 200m freestyle and 100m butterfly for Cox and the 100m breaststroke for Pellegrin. Cox also set the region records in both his events.

“It felt good to qualify; I felt really prepared and was going into it to win,” Pellegrin said. “I’m so nervous about state. I really want to break the school record.”

While not directly advancing, seniors Elizabeth Cook, second in the 100m backstroke, Collin Hall, second in the 100m breaststroke, and Chelsea Albright, second in the 200 individual medley, qualified for the state meet with their times. Cook also reset her own backstroke school record, which had previously been broken the day before in preliminaries, and made call ups in the 100m freestyle.

“I’m so happy I qualified, especially after being out last year,” said Albright, who had major surgery on her ulnar nerve which prevented her from competing last year. “I may not be as good as I was, but I did the best with what I had. I’ve been working hard and to make it to state my senior year, makes everything worth it.”

The Tiger Shark relay teams also achieved great success. The men’s 400m relay team consisting of Cox, junior Nick Sehy, senior Travis Whitfield, and senior Erubiel Basurto-Ruiz, and the men’s 200m relay team consisting of Cox, sophomore Zach Baker, Whitfield, and Sehy also made the call back times. In the girls division, the 200m medley relay consisting of Cook, Pellegrin, Albright, and senior Lauren Caswell, and the 400m relay of Albright, senior Kristian Lewis, junior Amy McCoy, and Cook also made the coveted call up list.

The Tiger Sharks ended the meet with victories for both the women’s and men’s team, regional swimmer of the meet award for Cox, and Carl Auel received the coach of the year award.

“I feel confident going into state,” said Cox, who is seeded first in the 100m butterfly. “It’s my first time to be seeded first in an individual event. I’m holding it to myself to maintain that spot. To win a state title would be crazy and the greatest thing I’ve done in my swimming career thus far.”

With the state meet quickly approaching, the swimmers are focusing on getting their minds and bodies ready for the biggest race of the season, and for many seniors, their last. However, with an amazing season and work ethic, they remain confident for personal bests and podium finishes. Only time will tell. February 25 will be a landmark day in these young athletes’ lives regardless.