Sweet Victory

LBJ swim team wins 200 yard medley relay at state championships

Somaya Jimenez-Haham, Staff Writer

On Feb. 15 and 16, 12 members of the LBJ swim team competed at the UIL Class 5A State Championship (State), held at Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center. The team has taken at least one swimmer to the State Championship for four years in a row. However, one of the largest group of Pool Jags ever attended the meet this year.

LASA junior Ava Longi swam two individual events: the 50 meter freestyle and the 100 meter freestyle, and two relays: the 200 medley and 200 meter freestyle, at both preliminaries and finals. Longi said although she was nervous during preliminaries, she felt calmer during finals

“I had already swum the day before; I knew what I was doing, I was ready,” Longi said. “The 50 free was first. That’s what I got second in. After I got second, I was more confident going into the rest of my races. Then 100 free was next, and I got third, and after I got my individual events out of the way, it was just the relays. It was more fun and upbeat because I got to race with my friends. It was really exciting. I was glad I got my individual events out of the way so I could focus on the relays.”  

Longi was one of the four girls, along with fellow LASA juniors Elizabeth Meyers, Sarah Mines and Jules Hayes, who won the 200 meter medley event and claimed a state title for the Pool Jags.

“I was the anchor on it, and before I dove in, it was really close,” Longi said. “ It was kind of stressful but it was also really exciting. When I was about to finish, I could tell I was ahead of the girl, but it was really close, so from the people watching, they wouldn’t know who won. So it was really exciting when I touched the wall. Everyone was screaming, and it was super fun when all four of us went on the podium together.”

LASA junior Evan Hadd is one of the captains on the swim team. He was proud of how the team did at State, especially the relay team that won first place.

“It’s such an accomplishment for our team to have a relay get first at state,” Hadd said. “We had a [LASA] freshman, Alex Watson, made fourth at state, which was just beyond super impressive and beyond our expectations.”

Watson, who also writes for the Liberator, said she was proud to be the only freshman competing at state. She swam the 500 freestyle and in the 400 freestyle relay.

“My 500, that’s my best event,” Watson said. “I was excited, but since it’s also my best event, it was a lot of pressure. I really wanted to drop time because I added at regionals. I had a good swim at districts, but I was feeling like I needed to do well. It was pretty exhausting, especially finals, and I was trying to get third. I was a foot behind the person who got third and it was a big struggle for me.”

LASA Junior Lucas Abounader has been swimming since age five, and said he enjoys high school swimming because of the competitive meets, as well as the teammates and relays. Abounader said that even beforehand, he knew the State Championship was going to be a great meet.

“I knew it was going to be a great meet after regionals,” Abounader said. “We had a great group of people. We prepared really well individually. We’re super focused and we did everything right in the early season, the regular season, we tapered well. We have the luxury of being able to hold on to our taper during state. We really overperformed at state because we really prepared. That’s out peak performance right there.”

According to Hadd, the practices this year worked well to help improve the team, especially swimmers whose only source of training is with the team.

“I definitely think the captains strove to make practices a little more challenging and try to push the team as much as we could every practice and coach worked there to push the team,” Hadd said. “I think that really worked for the swimmers that only swim with the team, we try to help them out as much as possible. That worked, I think because we were able to send six or seven of those swimmers to regionals. I think the other things is that we worked together to understand that while there’s an individual aspect to the sport, it’s still a group effort.”

One of Hadd’s team goals is to increase the number of swimmers sent to regionals and state by two to three people each year.

“I love the team,” Hadd said. “It’s definitely a community. As captains, we work for that, But I think it’s also a team effort to make it a team sport, rather than an individual sport. It’s an exciting group. It’s hard not to love the people you get up and swim with at six in the morning, and are out in the cold for a day.”