The Aiken-Augusta Swim League is set to send another large group to this weekend’s state meet with the hopes of more titles.
The league’s tradition of success has already extended another year with champions at the Georgia Independent School Association rank. A total of 14 athletes are preparing for the Georgia High School Association state meet this weekend at Georgia Tech.
“It’s definitely a tradition in Augusta and Aiken,” league director Jennifer Bowers said. “The kids, some of them this will be their third state, and some of them swam middle school so they’re going on their fourth. They’re pretty excited to build off the last couple years and see what’s going to happen now. We’re hoping for some good times.”
Good times and state championships have become the norm for area swimmers.
Augusta Prep’s Jake Estroff won two GISA events this past weekend and teammate Amy Riorden claimed an individual title. The Cavalier boys finished second overall and the girls took third, and a few middle school athletes won their events or finished top three.
The rest of the group is now set for the GHSA meet starting today with diving. Swimming events with take place Friday and Saturday.
Greenbrier recently swept the Columbia County swim and dive championships and enter the state meet with three competitors between Alison Leclerc, Jaren Tippett and Ashley Williamson. Lakeside finished second at the county meet and is represented at state by Will Bissell, Erin Day, Leah Gibbons and Natalie Plantamura.
Evans is represented by Rachel Fulton and Clayton Hill. Aquinas will send Mike Jeschke, Zoey Koltz, Grant McMahon and Anna Summers, and Westside has Trevor Payne.
Lakeside will attempt to continue its tradition of excellence on relay teams.
“It’s exciting to be a part of the team, because they’ve represented so well the past few years,” Day said. “It’s a lot of pressure to represent well again, but I’ve had a lot of friends go to Lakeside that have passed down that tradition.”
Gibbons, Day’s teammate, agreed and hoped for big things from their relay teams. Gibbons is in her first year at Lakeside but her seventh year at the swim league and sees hard work as the reason for its success.
“It’s definitely all of our hard work and dedication in practice,” Gibbons said. “We crank yards every day and never stop working hard. Definitely our dedication has led us all to state.”
Payne, who competes in the 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard individual medley, is in his first year with the swim league but has quickly discovered the secrets behind the tradition, echoing his club teammates’ philosophy of family and friendly competitiveness.
“Just hard work, dedication, and having these people together encouraging each other that we can make it to the next level and complete those goals that you’ve set for yourself,” Payne said.
No one in the league feels the family atmosphere of the club more than Koltz, who started when she was 9 years old and is competing in her first high school state meet as a freshman.
“It’s such a family,” Koltz said. “I feel so comfortable here in front of everyone. I don’t feel like I have to try to impress anyone, and everyone is so motivated and we push each other. I’ve been doing it for six years and no one has left. We’ve all done it together.”