Hall County Swimming Championships
When: 6 p.m. today
Where: Frances Meadows Aquatic Center
Flowery Branch’s swimmers haven’t grown complacent during their ongoing run of success at the Hall County championships.
Despite winning the overall title last year and claiming a sixth straight crown on the girls' side, the Falcons areas eager as ever to square off against their local rivals.
They get that opportunity tonight, when the Hall County championships begin at 6 p.m. at Frances Meadows Aquatic Center in Gainesville.
“The mentality is that this is the big one,” Flowery Branch coach Valerie Lancaster said about the importance of the county meet.
“This is our chance for some of our newer swimmers or swimmers who don’t swim year-round, this is where they can shine.”
On the girls’ side, Flowery Branch dominated last year’s meet, eclipsing second-place North Hall by a 139-point margin.
Lancaster expects another round of strong showings from four key swimmers who are back this season: senior Alex Miller, junior Sarah Robles, and sophomores Jena Killian and Riley Whitwell.
Miller placed second in both the 50 free and 100 free last year, while Robles was county champion in the 100 backstroke.
Lancaster believes her swimmers have a good shot at another top-two finish in multiple events. According to the coach, that type of versatility has been a key part of the Lady Falcons’ perennial success.
“Throughout the year, we emphasize being a team and working together and that every team member counts,” Lancaster said. “Even our less experienced swimmers learn all the strokes so at the end of the year they can compete wherever we need them to compete.”
North Hall first-year coach Kyle Frederick expects the Lady Trojans to likewise deliver another strong showing, but he also feels like the pressure is off for his squad.
With the exception of a couple events, the Trojans have already qualified for state in the races they were aiming for.
“My biggest expectation is that the kids just come out and do what they’ve been doing all year — work really hard and swim their best,” Frederick said.
On the boys’ side, Flowery Branch will need a strong showing from a pair of sophomores to end the night near the top of the standings.
Alec Burke and Kell Waddell, members of the Falcons’ second-place finish last season as freshmen, will be asked to lead the way for a squad that has no seniors.
“They’re going to do some heavy hitting for us in the boys category,” Lancaster said.
“Our sophomore boys are very competitive this year, they’re going to carry a lot of the load.”
Lancaster said the Falcons may be another year or two away from having a chance to steal top honors from Riverside Military Academy, which took first place last season, 66 points ahead of the second-place Falcons.
Gainesville’s boys finished sixth out of the seven boys programs last season, but senior Colin Monaghan hopes to lead the Red Elephants to a major jump in the standings.
Monaghan, a Georgia signee who won a state championship in the 100 breaststroke last year, said he’ll be altering his routine in an effort to help Gainesville rack up points.
In addition to moving over to the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly at county, Monaghan will also be participating in two relay races.
“We’re trying to get as many points as possible,” Monaghan said. “You try to represent your school in the best way possible.
“We want to challenge Riverside as best we can. That’s all we’ve been talking about for the past few weeks.”