Boys swim team has encouraging finish in state meet

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In an exhilarating meet marked by many successful races, the boys swim team secured a second-place finish in the state meet, beating longtime rival Marist and finishing behind only Dalton High School. This finish was the best overall finish by the boys since 2008-09, including a fifth place finish last year.

The state meet is especially challenging in swimming, considering the boys and girls compete against people from A-AAAAA. This increased competition makes for a compelling meet.

“The competition is welcome,“ said junior Sam Beadles. “Winning on the little stage doesn’t mean anything compared to winning on the big stage.”

The state meet works very differently than regular season meets. To make the state meet, there is a specific “state cut” that a swimmer has to make. Everyone who swims his or her race faster than that race’s specific time gets to go to state. On Friday are prelims. All the people who made state swim in their race, and the top 16 qualifiers, move on to the finals. The top 8 are in Heat A, and get at least 11 points, with the winner getting 20. The next 8 qualify for Heat B. The point scale for this heat is a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 9. The relay events get double points: for instance, the winner of a relay gets 40 points.

One of the coolest things about the state meet is its location. The meet takes place in the Georgia Tech Natatorium, the same pool in which the 1996 Olympic Games took place and NCAA Nationals are held each year and where Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte hold pool records. This star-studded location creates a spectacular atmosphere for the competitors.

“You’re on deck, so it’s not as homey as Westminster, but the pool is a lot faster,” said Beadles. “Once you get used to it, it’s a faster pool because of the environment surrounding it. Georgia Tech is just a pool, but it’s the people that are there, the competition that’s there, the numbers that are flying around, the names that are going around, that gets you the most pumped up.”

This year the boys’ state team consisted of senior captain Will Kibler, juniors Sam Beadles, Gabriel Bellott-McGrath and William Stith, sophomore Patrick Leonard, and freshmen Philip Stith, Derek Cox, and Erek Cox. Although this was not a large team, they performed admirably and were very surprising.

One person who surprised many this year was Sam Beadles. Beadles, who in his middle school years swam year-round, decided to focus more on tennis in high school, and as a result failed to make the state cut his first two years of high school. However, this year he qualified for a number of events and served as one of the upperclassmen leaders of the squad.

“Personally, getting into the A Finals for anything was surprising,” said Beadles. “I didn’t go to state sophomore year or freshman year, and then [this] year I got 11 points in an event, which was super surprising.”

Even though the boys finished in second place overall, they only won one event: the 200-yard individual medley. In this race, Derek Cox placed first in qualifying, securing his place in the A Heat, and then won with a time of 1:52:00, almost an entire second ahead of the second-place finisher.

One of the most exciting events in any swim meet is the 400-yard freestyle relay, and this year added an intriguing storyline. Since this race is swum last, the CatFish knew that they were down by 19 points to Dalton. Because of this, the only way that they could win would be if Dalton disqualified and they won the race. The Cats placed Derek Cox, one of the team’s best freestylers, on the first leg, to try to get a good head start and possibly disqualify the Dalton squad. Unfortunately, it did not work, and the Dalton squad ended up with the victory.

“We were fast,” said Beadles. ”But they were faster.”

The team looks ahead to next year’s state meet with optimism. Six of seven members of the state team this year, plus Taylor Cooper (who is currently in Italy on SYA) and Michael Moulton (who was out with a broken clavicle this year), who both have been on the state team before, will return along with the incoming freshmen.

“Everyone [on our team] is getting older,” said Beadles. “Dalton is losing Scarborough and Dale, two of their best performers.”

With this positive outlook, the future looks bright as the boys head into the offseason.

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Boys swim team has encouraging finish in state meet