1. Flowery Branch, 352 points
2. Riverside Military, 181
3. North Hall, 134
4. Chestatee, 123.5
5. Gainesville, 94
6. Lakeview Academy, 58
7. West Hall, 52.5
1. Riverside Military, 181
2. Flowery Branch, 115
3. Chestatee, 87
4. Lakeview Academy, 42
5. North Hall, 36
6. Gainesville, 32
7. West Hall, 19
1. Flowery Branch, 237
2. North Hall, 98
3. Gainesville, 62
4. Chestatee, 36.5
5. West Hall, 33.5
6. Lakeview Academy, 16
Flowery Branch coach Valarie Lancaster knows the competition is getting tougher each year at the Hall County swim championships. But that doesn’t seem to bother her teams.
Flowery Branch scored 352 points and won the overall county swim championship on Friday night at the Frances Meadows Aquatics Center in Gainesville. The Lady Falcons scored 237 of those points to claim a sixth-straight girls’ championship, while Riverside Military scored 181 points to win the boys’ title and finish second overall.
“It just shows that we have a program that keeps improving, keeps growing,” Lancaster said. “(The county) grows and we get more and more state qualifiers, and we get more county records broken. The teams are growing and the year-round programs are growing.”
Eight county records were broken Friday night and seven new state qualifying marks were reached in the 24-heat swim meet that featured seven schools.
Riverside Military was steady throughout the night, and saved its biggest performance for the final event, the boys’ 400-yard relay. Coach Mark Paglia knew it would likely come down to the final boys’ event, and he told his team they needed to give it their all.
Luckily for the Eagles, they did. Riverside Military posted a new county record with a time of 3 minutes, 33.79 seconds, breaking Chestatee’s record from last year by over a second, and breaking the team’s previous mark by over 9 ½ seconds.
“I was able to see what the entries were and I knew it was probably going to come down to the last relays,” said Paglia, who was rewarded for his team’s win with a push into the pool at the end of the night.
“I told them, ‘When we get to that last event, you have to swim like you have never swam before.’”
A pair of freshmen girls had some of the biggest individual performances of the night. Gainesville’s Sidney Cochran and North Hall’s Rosemary Schofield each set a pair of county marks.
Cochran, who swims year-round for Lanier Aquatics, started her night off by shattering a three-year old county mark in the 200-yard Individual Medley by nearly 19 seconds after posting a time of 2:15.8. Five events later, Cochran broke a five-year old county record in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:01.55.
“We train six days a week, like two hours every day,” Cochran said, when talking about her daily preparation. “We train for state.”
Schofield set the first of her two county records in the girls’ 50-yard freestyle, posting a time of 25.54 and breaking a record set in 2009. Schofield followed up her performance with a county record in the 100-yard freestyle, a record held by her older sister, Margaret.
“(Rosemary) had a great night,” North Hall coach Rebecca Crawford said. “What a great birthday present. She turns 15 on Monday. She knocked it out of the park today. I’m so proud of her.”
North Hall’s girls pulled one of the biggest upsets of the night in the final event, the 400-yard relay. The Lady Trojans not only set a new county record in the event, which they were not favored to win, but also qualified for next month’s state meet, posting a time of 4:11.26.
“I’m so proud of them,” Crawford said. “We have one first-time swimmer, (and it’s the) first time for several of these girls going to state. I’m just so excited.”
North Hall’s Ty Powers recorded the night’s first record breaking performance in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:47.75, breaking the previous mark by nearly two seconds.
Gainesville’s Colin Monaghan set a new county record in the 200-yard IM with a time of 1:56.19, edging a mark he set in last year’s county meet.
North Hall’s David Schofield qualified for state in the 50-yard freestyle and in the 100-yard breaststroke, while Riverside Military’s Robert McMorrow cut over 12 seconds off his personal best in the 500-yard freestyle to qualify for the state meet by nearly 3 ½ seconds, and teammate William Toth qualified for state in the 100-yard backstroke.
Along with North Hall’s girls’ 400 relay team qualifying for state, the Lady Trojans’ 200-yard freestyle team also posted a qualifying time. Riverside Military’s 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke relay teams also qualified for state.
North Hall (134 points) finished third overall, Chestatee (123.5) finished fourth, followed by Gainesville (94), Lakeview Academy (58) and West Hall (52.5).
On the boys’ side, Flowery Branch finished second, followed by Chestatee, Lakeview, North Hall, Gainesville and West Hall. On the girls’ side, North Hall placed second, ahead of Gainesville, Chestatee, West Hall and Lakeview Academy.