Familiar five return to state meet

Senior Kelsey Hahn commits to swimming at Ohio University with parents.

Senior Kelsey Hahn commits to swimming at Ohio University with parents.

Madeline Kemper, Buisness Manager

Senior Hanako Worrell stood up on the block, trying to stay calm and not think about the technical aspects of the race. As the beep sounded and she hit the water, she realized it was her final regional competition. From that point on, perfection was necessary.

“If you false-started or twitched on the block, you would have been disqualified,” Worrell said. “If you get disqualified, you’re finished with the season.”

After a sixth place finish in the 100 breaststroke at the regional championships at Gainesville on Nov. 7, Worrell’s season will continue, and so will the pressure.

This aspect is nothing new for veteran swimmers. Junior Ashley Boddiford was state runner up her freshman year and has had to live up to this reputation every year, which she did with her first place finish in the 200 IM at regionals.

“I had a rough districts, so the most pressure came from trying to redeem my district swims,” Boddiford said.

The state championships, which will be Saturday Nov. 14 in Jupiter Fla., is a two-step process that, for each event, takes the top two from each region plus the next fastest 16 from around the state.

Swimmers moving on to states include Boddiford, Worrell, Hahn, junior Jasmine Morris and senior John Fulginiti. The four girls, who qualified in the 400 relay as well as certain individual events, attribute the success to their teammates.

“We are like sisters on the relay because we depend on each other. It takes all of our efforts to succeed,” Morris said.

Individually, four swimmers qualified for eight races at states. Boddiford placed first in the 200 IM and third in the 100 yard backstroke. Hahn placed fifth in the 200 yard freestyle and seventh in the 500 yard freestyle. Worrell, who dropped time in both of her events from districts, finished sixth in the 100 breaststroke and eighth in the 100 freestyle. Fulginiti placed third in the 200 IM and fifth in the 100 yard breaststroke.

The same five swimmers also qualified for states last year, meaning that they are no strangers to the event or their competition. For seniors, it is also the last shot to earn a title.

“I expect a lot of fast swimming this year at states, definitely faster than last year,” Fulginiti said. “Some of my toughest competition didn’t place last year, so it will be interesting to see how they’ve improved.”

Others are just focused on improving their personal record.

“I am expecting to get my best times in both events, and if I end up making top three and end up on the podium, that would be an amazing plus,” Hahn, who signed with Ohio University on Wednesday, said.

Although the team did not win any meets throughout the regular season, the five meets before the district championship allowed swimmers to prepare for their personal and group events.

“The hype of the meets brought out the competitive side of a lot of people,” Hahn said. “We all become a support system for each other.”

Preparation for meets is unique to each athlete and swimmers like Hahn have developed rituals to help them stay relaxed.

“When I go behind the blocks, I always lick my goggles to prevent them from fogging up and stick my tongue out afterward multiple times,” Hahn said. “I also listen to an upbeat song about 10 minutes before my race to get a good rhythm in my head.”

The competition really begins with districts, where, on Oct. 22, the women’s team placed third and the men placed fifth. From there, swimmers have to make a certain place in their events to move on to regionals and states.

For Boddiford, swimming at regionals meant going against girls in the 200 individual medley, who were also her club teammates.

“We train together in the same lane every day, so it was fun to go one, two and three,” Boddiford said. “They are always good competition.”

Going into the state competition, the five swimmers are competing in several different events, but in the end all have the same goal.

“Once we dive into the pool at a meet, we are all there for the same reason: to perform the best we can and rack up as many points as possible,” Hahn said.