The Academy Jaguars swim team once more proved that they are back and better than ever. On Saturday, November 12, the team captured fourth place overall at the 2011 FHSAA Class 2A Swimming and Diving Championship, the culmination of the athletes’ successful seasons. Nine AHN swimmers and one diver competed at the meet, held at the Central Florida YMCA Aquatic Center in Orlando, a record number of qualifiers from the school.
After fast swims in the morning preliminary session, the team headed back to its hotel to rest up for that evening’s finals, in which state champions would be crowned and athletes would feel the exhiliration that accompanies victory. At 5:30 that night, the 200-medley relay, composed of freshmen Colleen Driscoll, Alex Nuyianes, and Julia Cogdill, along with sophomore Margret Shumake, kicked off the finals, earning thirteenth place with a time of 1:57.19. Shumake later won sixth place overall in the 100-yard breastroke in a time of 1:07.46, besting her own school record.
Next, a few individuals swam and dove for the Jaguars. Hannah Crall, who joined the squad as a first-time diver halfway through the season, claimed twentieth place for Academy by scoring 197.65 points. Freshman Alex Nuyianes placed thirteenth in the 200-yard individual medley. Sophomore Clare Fleming and senior Mary Green sprinted in the consolation heat of the 50-yard freestyle, swimming’s fastest event, and earned thirteenth- and sixteenth-place finishes overall, respectively.
Fleming returned for the finals of the 100-yard freestyle, for which she claimed a spot during a swim-off in the morning after tying another competitor in the preliminary round. In that race, Fleming broke another school record with a quick 52.79, her career best. In the evening finals, she sprinted to fifth place overall, winning a medal as a top-eight finisher. Junior Tori Litschgi also won points for the Jaguars with her thirteenth-place swim in the same event.
The highlight of the night arrived with the girls 200-yard freestyle relay. Seeded second from the morning’s prelims behind Pensacola Washington, this relay looked to defend its title from last season. Mary Green led off the group in lane 5 with her 50-yard leg, and freshman Konner Brewer kept pace with the competition as the second swimmer. The team was in second place as Litschgi dove into the water, but she fought back and closed the gap between Academy and Washington. Litschgi touched the wall at the exact same moment as the Washington swimmer, setting up a finish that would be determined by each school’s final swimmer.
Amidst cheers from her twenty-plus Academy and Jesuit teammates behind the block, Clare Fleming quickly dove into the pool to begin her anchor leg of the relay. Kicking as hard as she could, Fleming quickly finished her two laps and out-touched the Washington swimmer at the wall, winning by 0.18 seconds in a time of 1:39.18, a new school record. As Clare caught her breath and recovered from her winning sprint, the team jumped and cheered from behind the blocks, champions for the second year in a row.
After the medal ceremony and a few interviews for various newspapers and television shows, the foursome returned to the pool to close out the meet with the 400 freestyle relay. Just missing out on returning to the podium, the group finished fourth with a time of 3:38.32.
At the conclusion of the season’s final meet, the officials and scorekeepers tallied the points and awarded the Jaguars with fourth place overall in Class 2A, the team’s best finish in over five years. Senior swimmers were happy to close their careers with such an eventful and exciting meet, while the returning underclassmen look to improve on this year’s strong showing in the 2012 season.