ORLANDO — Knowing she needed to make up about one second during her leg of the girls 200-yard free relay, nearly an eternity in swimming time, Academy of the Holy Names junior Tori Litschgi prepared to swim the most pressure-filled race of her career Saturday at the YMCA Aquatic Center.
She knew exactly what she did not need to do.
"I just concentrated on trying not to breathe," she said.
With that in mind, she made up that second and pulled AHN into a dead heat with Pensacola Washington, the team in the lane to her right. And sophomore Clare Fleming nearly matched Litschgi's frenzied pace, as the Jaguars won the event at the state meet for the second year in a row in 1 minute, 39.18 seconds, a school record.
"They weren't perfect swims," coach Bill Shaffer said, "but they got it done."
Shaffer tinkered with the race order until the end, switching senior Mary Green, the lone newcomer to this year's lineup, to the first leg from the second leg and bumping freshman Konner Brewer to second from third. Brewer had the flu during last week's region meet and recovered enough to swim in the 400 free relay, which finished fourth in 3:38.32.
The AHN girls team finished fourth overall with 119 points. Sophomore Margaret Shumake broke the school record in the 100 breaststroke with her time of 1:07.46, good for sixth place, and Fleming set a school mark in the 100 free when she raced head-to-head with Hannah Burdge from Martin County for the last spot in the final. Fleming finished fifth in 53.56.
For the Jesuit boys, senior Chris Swanson, who committed to Penn earlier this week, entered the meet with aspirations to win the 500 free. His personal-best time of 4:30.79, though good enough for All-American consideration, was third fastest in the final. He had also finished seventh in the 200 individual medley in 1:55.39 earlier in the day.
Swanson came back to anchor the 400 free relay, and his 100 split of 46.59 made up two seconds and propelled Jesuit to a third-place finish.
"He could have given up," Shaffer said, "but we know his heart is in the right place."
Juniors Thompson Marston and Will Jennings, along with senior Nick Dwyer, swam the first three legs of the 400 relay, respectively. Marston, Swanson, Jennings and Austin Sellers earned fourth in the 200 medley relay as well. Robinson junior John Nolte was the only other boy from Hillsborough County to make a final, and he finished sixth in the 50 free (21.47).
Spoto senior Georgie Graves, who made it to the state meet last year in the girls 200 free and 100 fly, returned this year to place third in the 50 free in 24.22. The Gardner-Webb commitment added a fourth-place finish in the 100 free.
"I don't even remember the swim," Graves said of her 50 free race. "I just remember standing on the block thinking, 'I want to medal in this.' I just raced, and then I got to the wall and saw the touch pad and was like, 'Oh my gosh, I got a medal.' "