Cambridge headed to Georgia Tech on Friday morning, Feb. 7th to compete among the best in the state in one of the best facilities in the state. Among the many impressive swims on Friday, Cambridge was swimming next to All-American automatic and consolation qualifiers and record-breakers. Among other records broken on Friday, the 100-backstroke state record that hadn't been touched since 2000 was broken by Ethan Young, a swimmer from Dalton High School. Young went on to beat his own record at finals with a time of 47.54. Additionally, Paul Powers from North Hall broke his own state record from last year to swim an incredible 43.19 in the 100-freestyle.
The first event on the Cambridge agenda was the girls' 200-Medley Relay. On this relay was Nicole Detjen on backstroke, Maggie McGinty on breaststroke, Olivia Mahler on butterfly and Katie Durden on freestyle. Seeded 23rd going into prelims, the team dropped 1.5 seconds to swim a new school record time of 1:59.10, which jumped them one spot to finish in 22nd place overall out of 53 relay teams. All members of the relay team swam new personal best splits for the season. Currently, only the top 16 teams are invited back to compete in finals with two alternate relay teams. Next year, coaches want to advocate for the top 20 teams to be invited back with two alternate teams, which would allow 22 teams to make it back to finals.
After the medley relay, Cambridge had a long break before competing again. The next event was the boys' 500-freestyle, where Cambridge had three competitors: Jake Todd, Austin Daniel and Ethan Nalwasky. Daniel was up first with an entry time of 5:18.12. Daniel dropped over six seconds from his entry time to have a final swim at a time of 5:11.93. His performance improved his seed from 45th to 41st. Next swimmer to compete was Nalwasky, with an entry time of 5:15.15. With a solid pace and finish, Nalwasky improved his entry time by over eight seconds to swim 5:06.74. His performance improved his seed from 38th to 33rd overall and set a new school record. Last to swim was Todd with the strongest seed (27th) and strongest entry time from Cambridge at 5:10.27. Even though Todd didn't swim the race he wanted to and ended with a higher seed than he came in with a final swim at 5:12.18, his performance was significantly stronger than his showing in the same event last year. Todd and Daniel also had another individual event coming up and a relay to complete.
Immediately following the 500-freestyle, the Cambridge girls' and boys' teams competed in the 200-freestyle relay. For the boys' team, Alex Mahler, Matt Hogan, Sean McGinty, and Bryce Jewell competed with an entry time of 1:39.38 and a seed of 55th out of 64 teams. The team dropped time to swim a final time of 1:39.33, just shy of setting a new school record from state last year. Their new time maintained their final standing. The girls' team made up of Ashley Dale Henslee, Angela Ho, Sydney Swenton, and Katie Durden, had an incredibly impressive showing at prelims. With an entry time of 1:51.33, the girls' team dropped over two seconds for a final time of 1:49.10, which set a new school record. Additionally, the performance earned them a second-place finish in their heat, where they were anticipated to be sixth, and their seed position of 37th to improve to 29th overall. All girls swam very strong splits and many had personal bests, such as Sydney Swenton who dropped over a second from her best 50-free split for the season.
The next event the team would have a showing in was the boys' 100-backstroke. Two of the three competitors for Cambridge had already competed in the 500-freestyle, where they had to quickly recover from in order to get up to compete again. First to compete was Austin Daniel. His entry time of 1:00.00 (the exact time required to qualify for state) was improved by almost a second to have a final time of 59.27. His seed improved from 53rd to 45th overall. Jake Todd and Erek Humm both competed in the next heat. Todd's entry time was 59.61 and his final time was 59.75, with a final placing of 48th. Humm's entry time was 59.81 with a seed of 49th, but his final time improved by almost a full second to swim an incredible 58.86, which was a new school record and improved his seed to have a final placing of 40th.
The only individual girls' event of the day was Maggie McGinty in the 100-breaststroke. For the last two years, McGinty has been a significant point-earner for Cambridge team. Her consistently strong performance in the 100-breaststroke has really anchored the girls' team and has been the difference for most, if not all, of the wins the team has had this season. McGinty competed in the state meet last year and returned to finals as a first alternate. Her seed time was 1:11.93 with a placing of 21st. In order to make it back to finals, she would have had to solidly beat out five other swimmers and drop significant time. Her final time was 1:12.20, which would not earn her a spot in finals, but McGinty's career at Cambridge has been unmatched and she will leave significant shoes to fill on the team, especially in the breaststroke event.
The last event of the day was the 400-freestyle relay for the boys' and girls' team. For the boys team, the relay was made up of Jake Todd, Ethan Nalwasky, Matt Hogan, and Austin Daniel. With an entry time of 3:37.17 and a seed of 27th, the boys' team was set up to do very well, and they did. With all team members swimming under 55-second 100-freestyle splits and Daniel swimming a 52.49 split, the team improved their time by over a second to set a new school record at 3:35.91. Unfortunately, other teams improved their times as well, so even with a time drop, the team increased in seed. The girls' relay team was made up of Ashley Dale Henslee, Angela Ho, Sydney Swenton and Katie Durden. With an entry time of 4:09.50 and a seed of 34th overall, the team dropped over four seconds to set a new school record at a time of 4:05.30. Their final seed was 31st. With all team members swimming season-best relay splits, the relay did an incredible job.
Every year the program is getting stronger and faster and setting a new standard for excellence. With each year, the state roster is getting longer and including more individual events and next year should be even better. There were a number of swimmers that were on the brink of state cuts throughout the season including Katie Durden in the 100-backstroke and 50-freestyle, Nicole Detjen in the 100-backstroke, Olivia Mahler in the 100-butterfly, Austin Daniel in the 200, 100 and 50-freestyle and 200-individual medley, Jake Todd in the 200-freestyle, Ethan Nalwasky in the 100-butterfly and 100-breaststroke and many others. With a third full class of swimmers to add to the team next year, the team will add significant depth and begin to approach their full capacity. Each year, the team will become more competitive, but the team will also maintain what has made them special: a sense of family. As the motto of Cambridge athletics has embodied this year, Cambridge swimming will always be "all in all the time."