Three dynasties in swimming try to extend championship tradition at state meet

michael carvell

The AJC

Three swimming dynasties will try to keep their streaks intact at this weekend’s state championship meet at Georgia Tech.

The Marist girls are the four-time defending state champions of Class AAAA-A, while both the Brookwood boys and Lassiter girls have won three consecutive Class AAAAA state titles. The Greater Atlanta Christian boys captured their first state trophy in Class AAAA-A last year.

This season’s meet will be held Friday and Saturday at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center. Here’s a breakdown of the three powerhouses:

Marist girls

They may have the best chance at repeating after going undefeated in dual meets this season. The War Eagles also won the Madeleine Brown Invitational, but showed vulnerability a couple of weeks ago by losing the Metro Championships to Westminster by six points. St. Pius, Lambert, Johns Creek, Etowah, Sequoyah, Pope and Chattahoochee are top threats.

“I feel like our chances are pretty good with almost everyone returning from last year’s team, along with adding a few outstanding newcomers,” Marist coach Terry Blish said. “We know Westminster is not going to just sit by and let us take it — they want to end our streak and start another one of their own [after winning six consecutive from 2000-06]. However, both of us have to be wary of all the other teams in the hunt — which is great for the sport.”

Marist has 15 seniors who started the legacy as freshmen on the same 2008 team, with Olympian Kathleen Hersey leading the way. Meredith Nakano (100 breaststroke) and Katherine Daniels (200 IM) are Marist’s top two swimmers and could win their individual events. They both also will compete in the 100 butterfly against defending champion Nicole Stafford from Westminster.

Lassiter girls

Georgia-bound Shannon O’Malley (100 breaststroke, 200 IM) leads one of the state’s most talent-loaded teams, which also boasts North Carolina recruit Kim Carducci (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle) and Texas A&M signee Samantha Bosma (100 backstroke, 100 freestyle).

“I feel that we have an excellent chance at making it No. 4 in a row,” Lassiter coach Glenn Meeden said. “It is very important to them to keep the streak alive and to accomplish something that anyone has hardly ever done … in any sport, at any level. They have done so much with all the talent that has come through the program [the past three years), as well as with the huge amount of talent that currently resides on the team. They just believe in themselves."

Brookwood, Mill Creek, Milton, North Gwinnett, Walton and Harrison are among the many other contenders.

Brookwood boys

Coach Greg Puckett is not so sure about No. 4, with so many fresh faces on the team. "It will be a tough uphill battle because, due to graduation losses, we don't have the overwhelming depth that we had in the past," he said. "[However, the streak] is very important because they gotten used to being state champions. That is all the seniors and rest of team have known.”

The Brookwood trio of Michael Trice (50 freestyle and 100 freestyle), Ken Bolton (200 freestyle and 100 freestyle) and Aidan Sweeney (200 IM, 500 freestyle) should place high in their individual events.

“We do have a very strong nucleus of athletes that should perform well at state, but so do a few other teams,” said Puckett, referring to Peachtree Ridge, Lassiter, Parkview, Alpharetta and Northview, among others.

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