Chestatee senior Luke Hene is focusing on finishing out his high school swim career with a personal-best time in his strongest event, the 100-yard backstroke, at the GHSA Swimming and Diving Championships this Friday and Saturday.
“I want to break 50 (seconds),” Hene said. “I’ve never done it before. I want to do it so I can prove to myself and my coach that I am capable of it.”
If Hene accomplishes his goal, it will be the fastest 100-yard backstroke ever recorded by a Chestatee High swimmer. He qualified fourth in the state with a time of 52.22.
Along with the 100-yard backstroke, Hene will be competing in the 200-yard individual medley, while helping the relay team for the 200-yard medley and 200-yard freestyle.
“It’s definitely great to swim with some teammates that have been working hard who don’t get the opportunity to swim year round like I do but have been working with our coaches,” Hene said.
Chestatee senior Trace Austin is one such swimmer who has also qualified for two individual events.
The championships will be on the Georgia Tech campus at the Recreation Center.
“It’s not your typical year-round swim meet,” said Hene, who has scholarship offers from the University of Pittsburgh, University of Cincinnati, West Virginia University, University of Buffalo and East Carolina University. “It’s a high school meet that a lot of my friends will attend. You want to impress your friends and try your best to show where you stand in the state.”
The North Hall girls swim team boasts two top-five qualifiers in the 100-yard freestyle. Senior Ashley Johnston finished with the fifth fastest time in the state, while junior Rosemary Schofield recorded the top time in the state of Georgia at 53.84 seconds.
“(Schofield) is a very hard worker,” said North Hall swim coach Peter Doig. “She has a positive attitude and hopefully it will show Friday and Saturday.”
With two of the five fastest 100-yard freestyle swimmers in the state, North Hall is expected to be strong contenders in the girls 200-yard freestyle relay. Joining Schofield and Johnston on the relay team are Jordan Battle and Emily Anne Frederick. Schofield and Johnston also qualified third in the 50-yard freestyle and ninth in the 100-yard backstroke respectively.
Other top qualifiers include Gainesville’s Tanner Doan (200-yard individual medley) and Brian Monaghan (100-yard breaststroke), Riverside Military senior Kevin Reale (100-yard breaststroke and 100-yard butterfly), Jefferson senior Camille Porter (50-yard freestyle) and Chestatee sophomore Lindsey Grater (200-yard freestyle).
Flowery Branch juniors Alec Burke and Jena Killian have also qualified for individual events. Burke will be competing in the boys 100-meter butterfly and 100-meter freestyle, while Killian will be in the girls 50-meter freestyle.
“(Burke and Killian) worked very hard to overcome obstacles,” said Flowery Branch swim coach Valerie Lancaster. “We are excited to see them end their season in the state championship.”
The Flowery Branch swim team also has six entries in the team relays. Both the boys and girls relay teams qualified for the 200-meter medley, 200-meter freestyle and 400-yard freestyle.
Buford, Jackson County, Lakeview Academy, Lumpkin County and West Hall will also have swimmers that will be hoping to compete through the weekend. Preliminaries start 9 a.m. Friday, while the finals will begin 1 p.m. Saturday.