While the goal is always to finish first, swimming and diving coaches and the athletes themselves were focusing on more than just that Saturday at the 2013 Panther Invitational at the Augusta Aquatic Center.
With the GHSA 2012-13 State Swimming & Diving Championships on Feb. 8, area swimmers and divers have until the end of the month to qualify for the state competition. The two biggest chances are the Columbia County Championships on Jan. 22 and the CSRA Championships on Jan. 29.
Saturday’s field for the swimming and diving included host Lakeside, Greenbrier, Westside, Woodward Academy and Spalding.
“Our biggest goal is to get more kids to state,” said Lakeside coach Martin Kata, “We have some new swimmers and we’re also trying to improve times.”
Westside head coach Jody Grant brought one swimmer, sophomore Aaron Rheins, to the meet. It was a short day for the pair with Rheins qualifying for states in the 200 yard individual medley.
“Usually I don’t sprint the first two strokes, but I decided to go fast the whole time,” said Rheins.
Greenbrier, which is 5-0 in dual meets this season, had a few swimmers qualify on Saturday, including Dallin Tippett.
“I’m trying to get times to qualify instead of exactly winning,” said Tippet after finishing second in the 50 freestyle but failing to qualify. In the event he was really focused on, however, Tippett finished first in the 100 backstroke (59.35), advancing to the state.
Four divers competing – C.J. Simmons and Ayanna Woods from Greenbrier, Ryan Vincenzetti (Lakeside) and Meghan Zets (Grovetown) had already qualified, while Grovetown’s Shantel Rausch and Katelyn Morgan – achieved high enough scores to join them.