ORLANDO — Wharton's Jordan Rees bent into his starting position, flapped his arms across his back and launched himself at the start of the horn.
From there, it was a mad sprint from one end of the pool to the other, a 50-yard freestyle race that was over in fewer than 21 seconds.
In the final 25 yards, Rees turned it on and the crowd roared. In a few soaring strokes he was near the lead and touched the wall in 20.87 seconds.
But it wasn't good enough for a title at the Class 3A state meet.
Rees finished as the runnerup to Miami Palmetto's Michael Saco, who won in 20.11, surpassing the state record of 20.22 set by Lyman's Alexander Forbes in 2004.
"If I'm going to lose I guess that's the way to do it," Rees said. "I thought I had a pretty good chance of winning going into it, but it wasn't my best race."
Rees, who was the highest place winner in the county, also finished fifth in the 100 free (46.46) and teamed with Mark Sox, Chad Ankers and Patrick Gilbreath on the fifth-place 400 free relay team (3:13.77).
Plant's John Deedrick was third in the 200 free (1:40.56) and fifth in the 500 free (4:35.14).
On the girls side, Newsome's Kati Kyle was fourth in the 100 back (56.73), and Plant's Elin Slaatmo fourth in the 500 free (4:54.64) and Emily Clifford eighth in the 100 breaststroke ( 1:07.27). The Wharton girls 200 free relay team placed fifth (Sarah Menendez, Danielle Albright, Megan Smith, Blair Kuethe) in 1:38.57. Kuethe also was eighth in the 200 free (1:52.57).
Countryside's Melanie Margalis, the two-time defending state champion in the 200 individual medley, won her third straight title in the event and shattered the state record with a time of 1:57.07, surpassing the mark of 1:58.91 set by Gainesville Eastside's Allison Wagner in 1994.
"I really wanted to break the national one, but I'm happy with the state record," Margalis said. "I thought it was something I might have had, but I'm not good at judging times. I had to look to the scoreboard to know."
Margalis wasn't finished. In the 500 free, she pulverized the competition, winning in 4:42.62 — 10 seconds ahead of her closest rival, East Lake's Taylor Katz.
Seminole's Kaitlin Frehling won her third straight title in the 50 free in 23.36; Plant's Rebecca Werdine was eighth (24.07). Frehling was the runnerup in the 100 fly (55.25).