STUART — From the very first finish, Academy of the Holy Names coach Bill Shaffer knew the Class 2A state swim meet was going to be good to his swimmers.
The girls 200-yard medley relay of Olivia Kirkpatrick, Shae Timmons, Julia Cogdill and Alex Nuyianes was seeded fifth going into Saturday’s final heat based on the morning preliminaries.
But finishing in 1 minute, 49.47 seconds, more than two seconds faster than its prelim time, the relay made up ground and snagged third place and a spot on the podium.
“When we have support staff shattering a school record — they broke the school record by over two seconds — that set the tone,” Shaffer said. “The girls were upbeat from then on.”
The Jaguars went on to capture third-place overall (206 points, behind Pensacola Washington and Estero), the school’s best finish since it was state runnerup in the mid 1970s, Shaffer said. They also set seven school records at Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center. Holy Names had 10 top-eight finishes.
On the boys side, Robinson’s Ross Brown took second in the 50 free and Jesuit’s Austin Sellers took sixth in the 200 individual medley and second in the 100 breast to fuel the Tigers to a fifth-place finish overall.
Sellers, who was seeded first in the breast heading into the final, led St. Brendan’s Wayne Denswil, the eventual titleist, for most of the race. But during the final 25 yards, Sellers said his legs became numb from fatigue. When he finished and looked up at the scoreboard, the junior was disappointed to learn he’d been beaten by a tenth of a second.
“This whole year I’ll probably be looking at that,” said Sellers, who finished seventh in the event last season. “I’ll probably post a time of what (Denswil) did next to my bed.”
As the end of the meet neared, the Jaguars were in fifth with just three events to go. Kirkpatrick, seeded seventh going into the final of the 100 back, was displeased with her prelim swim. The sophomore, who took fourth in the 50 free earlier, was placed in Lane 1, away from the top contenders.
“Personal preference, I like the outside lanes,” said Kirkpatrick, who finished fifth. “Nobody is expecting you. You’re not really on anybody’s radar.”
Even in the final event of the night, the 400 free relay, Holy Names had an outside shot of taking second-place overall, matching its best finish in school history. But as Estero finished second, three spots ahead of the Jaguars, and the teams’ fates were sealed.