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HS swimming: Hall County boasts multiple state title contenders

State swim meet begins Friday at Georgia Tech

POSTED: February 7, 2013 10:23 p.m.

North Hall swimming coach Debby Duncan has learned her lesson.

Last year she told her boys 200-yard freestyle relay team that if they could break the top 15, she’d cut her hair short. They finished ninth, and then-Trojans sophomore Paul Powers delivered Hall County its first GHSA state swimming title with a win in the 50 freestyle.

So no more friendly bets with her swimmers, who are only getting better.

“Not this year,” she chuckled. “But Paul really wants to break 20 seconds, and if he does you’ll see me doing a dance on deck. And if our 200 relay gets first, I’ll probably do another dance on deck.”

Heading into the state meet today and Saturday at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Powers is poised to repeat in the 50 freestyle, going in with a seed time of 21.03. His goal is to do it in under 20 seconds, and get a first individual title in the 100 freestyle (46.78). The Trojans’ 200 freestyle relay team (Paul Powers, Ty Powers, David Schofield and Bradley Brown) also has a top seed (1:29.77), while Ty Powers is second in the 50 freestyle at 21.57 and seventh in the 100 breaststroke (1:02.53).

That’s not all. The Trojans’ 200 medley relay team, featuring the same four swimmers, is seeded fourth, giving it an outside shot at a state title.

And North Hall hasn’t cornered the market on potential Hall County state champs this season. Gainesville sophomore Colin Monaghan is seeded first (1:56.60) in the 200-yard individual medley.

Not only is swimming growing in popularity in Hall County, it’s improving.

“They’ve all improved tremendously this year,” Duncan said. “It’s really proof that swimming is coming. When you have people like the Monaghans, the Powers, these kids really inspire the other kids. They’re seeing that they can do it, and they want to win state too.

“Hall County (swimming) is growing, and it’s no longer just the few teams.”

Paul Powers wants to see Hall County take yet another step this season with multiple state championships. He still relishes the history he made last season, but now he wants to share that joy.

“It was really good knowing that I’m representing Hall County at state,” he said. “And now we’re looking to put our name on the map much more, showing what Hall County’s got to bring to the sport.”

And while Powers is heading to Atlanta to do well individually as well as for the Trojans, he likes to keep tabs on both his teammates and other swimmers from the county. This year, that means keeping an eye on what Monaghan can do.

The Gainesville sophomore certainly has the experience to make good on his No. 1 seeding, having won a USA Swimming 14-and-under state title in the 400 individual medley last summer. Ty Powers is also a 14-and-under champion.

The individual medley has become Monaghan’s signature event in the same way the 50 freestyle is for Paul Powers.

“For high school swimming the 200 IM is sometimes considered a scary event, but Colin has always enjoyed it,” said Gainesville coach John Price. “It’s been his specialty for awhile.”

Price said Monaghan, who also had an older brother who swam, has as good of a shot at winning a state title as any swimmer the coach has seen at the school. Monaghan was fifth in state in the 200 IM last season. This year, he’s also seeded fifth in the 100 butterfly.

Last year North Hall broke through via Paul Powers’ 50 freestyle win. Now Monaghan gets his shot to break through for Gainesville swimming.

The more the merrier, according to Powers.

“It’s a really cool thing to see,” he said. “I love swimming with my brother, and having him swimming with me, and swimming with my teammates, and I like knowing the people that get first at state. You can share in their joy — it’s a really good bonding moment.”

Duncan is just excited to see how much better the Trojans can do this time around. She’s especially excited to see North Hall possibly get its first relay state title if the 200 freestyle team can defend its No. 1 seed.

“I can’t wait to see that race,” she said. “The guys are so psyched up for it, they tell me they’re going to blow it out of the water.”

Notes: North Hall has a couple of first timers in the relays this year, including Schofield in the two top relay teams and Stone Daniels and Owen Helms in the 400 IM relay. ... North Hall and Gainesville aren’t the only two Hall County teams to be represented at state. Flowery Branch, Riverside Military, Chestatee and Lakeview Academy also have swimmers represented, as well as area teams Buford and Jefferson. ... Preliminaries will be held at 9 a.m. Friday at Georgia Tech, with the finals Saturday. ... Buford leads all area teams with 12 state qualifiers, Flowery Branch brings 10 and Chestatee nine.


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