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Girls state swimming: East Lake's Aitchison wins four golds

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Sat. November 16, 2013 | Bob Putnam | Email

Girls state swimming: East Lake's Aitchison wins four golds

STUART — East Lake’s Alexandra Aitchison, a member of the Canadian junior national swim team, moved from Arizona this summer to train year-round and face better competition. 

The end result came at Saturday’s Class 4A state meet, where Aitchison left competitors in her wake with individual titles in the 200-yard freestyle (1:47.52) and 500 free (4:47.82). 

But her most impressive performances might have come in the relays. In the 200 medley, she made up enough ground with her leg in the butterfly to help teammates Sydney Pickrem, Annika Smith and Michelle Turek to take gold in 1:47.03. Aitchison capped her night by swimming the opening leg in the 400 free relay. Madison Kennedy, Pickrem and Turek held on to the lead to win in 3:27.56. 

By winning gold in four events, Aitchison helped the Eagles take second overall with 183 points, the highest finish in school history. 

“I was a little bit under the weather coming into the meet,” said Aitchison, who was still recovering from a cold. “That might have hurt me in my times. But I think I did the best I could, and I knew I had to reach deep down, especially in those relays, to help out the team.” 

Aitchison was one of three bay area girls swimmers to win in multiple events. 

Plant’s Alexandria Donahue won the 50 free (23.60) and defended her title in the 100 breast with a time (1:02.50). She also teamed with Carter Flynn, Martha Pointer and Sarah Rossi to place third in the 200 medley relay (1:47.34). In the preliminaries of the 100 breast, Donahue finished first in 1:01.97, which was 0.24 seconds off the state record set in 2008. 

“Mentally, I felt I was stronger this year,” Donahue said. “It was a little nerve racking before because I didn’t really feel the best. But after the taper I felt great.” 

Newsome’s Madeline Hess defended her titles in the 100 free (50.35) and 100 back (54.38). She also paired with Sarah Neely, Lauren Harper and Allison Greenwood on the winning 200 free relay (1:35.48). 

“I just fine-tuned a few things,” Hess said of her performance this year. “It’s worked out really well.” 

Wharton’s Dee Sopapong was second in the 100 breast (1:04.40) and third in the 200 individual medley (2:04.57). 

East Lake’s Turek was second in the 100 free (51.41) and 200 free (1:49.18). Palm Harbor University’s Kendall McIntosh was the runnerup in the 50 free (23.92) and St. Petersburg’s McKenna Harris was third in the 100 breast (1:04.41). 

Palm Harbor University was third (155) overall, behind meet winner Sarasota Riverview (209). Newsome (6th, 133.5) was the highest finishing Hillsborough County school.

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