PARKERSBURG -Parkersburg South swimmer Audrey Sweeney has learned a thing or two from her previous experiences at the state meet.
Beginning today at 8:30 a.m. at the West Virginia University Natatorium, the junior will begin her quest to become the first Patriot female to win a state title. She has the potential to sweep both the 50 and 100 freestyle events.
During her freshman and sophomore year, Sweeney placed third in the 100 free and fourth in the 50 free. This year, she is seeded No. 1 in both events.
Less than sixth-tenths of a second separate seeds one through seven in the 50 free.
"I know the pool and the area, so I am ready to go," Sweeney said. "There is some pressure, but I just have to stay focused on myself and not worry about everybody else. I can always lose my spot and walk into the finals fifth or sixth. Just as long as I make it into the finals, I'll take it from there."
Sweeney, along with teammates Courtney Clegg, Beth Collins and Anna Pasternak, are seeded fifth in the 200 free relay. More importantly, last week's regional time of 1:49.50 is barely more than a second slower than the school record.
West Virginia State Swim Meet
At WVU Natatorium,
- Session I: Girls prelims
Time: 8:30 a.m.
- Session II: Boys prelims
Time: 3:30 p.m.
- Session III: Girls finals
Time: 8:30 a.m.
- Session IV: Boys finals
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Clegg and Collins are both seniors, while Pasternak is a sophomore.
"This is a really good way to end the season because I am going in all four of my events," said Collins, who will also compete in the 100 breaststroke, 200 medley relay and 400 free relay. "It's special to share my last events with my best friends on the team.
"Swimming has been a huge part of my life. Looking back at my freshman year, I never thought I would swim this fast."
Clegg, who joined the program for the first time this season after being encouraged by Gabby Ruble, also is a member of all three relays and adds a fourth event (50 free) to her repertoire.
"I never imagined I would be going to state," Clegg said. "I'm just going to take a deep breath and go for it - and remember that it is my first year."
Also known for her cross country abilities, Ruble will swim the backstroke leg on the 200 medley relay. South coach Steve Lutz switched her position just in time for regionals.
"I was definitely very nervous that I was going to mess up the relay because I haven't swam it this year at all," Ruble said.
On the boys side, South is well-represented. Senior Jacob Giffin leads the six-member contingent and will compete in the 200 and 500 freestyle events in addition to the 400 free relay.
"It's pretty amazing looking back at how slow I went back when I was a freshman and then today this is nothing," Giffin said. "Through the years, I just went to practice, stayed in the water and did all the yards my coaches told me to do."
Also making the trip for this afternoon's prelims are Lane Burton, Thomas Currey, Corey Johnson, Joe Miller and Garrett DePergola. In addition to swimming a leg on the 200 medley and 400 free relays, DePergola will look to make the top 12 in the 200 individual medley - an event he has attempted just a handful of times this season.
"As an alternate at state last year, I just wanted to see how it was and how intense it was," DePergola said. "I feel at ease right now, but I might be a little nervous (on Friday)."