Lakewood Ranch sent seven swimmers to the Class 4A championship in Stuart — six girls and one boy — and those seven made Saturday’s meet particularly memorable for head coach Julie Santiago.
All seven set personal bests at Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center, and with only six girls the Mustang girls finished sixth as a team.
“It was just a magic that permeated through the team,” Santiago said. “It was like one magical swim and then another. It was contagious. It just spread throughout the team.”
Courtney Chapin’s third-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke was the best performance by a Manatee County swimmer Saturday. Emily Loefgren gave Lakewood Ranch another strong performance, finishing fourth in the 200 individual medley and sixth in the 100 breaststroke. Chapin and Loefgren were also both on the 200 medley relay, which finished fourth. Chapin also helped the Mustangs’ 400 freestyle relay finish fourth and Loefgren led its 200 relay to seventh.
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The top eight in each event are awarded medals at state championships.
Lakewood Ranch finished with 100 points as a team. Gainesville Buchholz won the girls meet with 276 points. Sarasota Riverview won the boys meet with 276, as well.
The Mustang boys had one medalist at Sailfish Splash Waterpark. Sebastian Aguirre finished sixth in the 100 butterfly. He tied Lakewood Ranch for 35th with 17 points.
Class 2A-Region 3
Bayshore’s Ryley Ober claimed a pair of Class 2A-Region 3 championships Saturday to lead a strong performance from Bayshore in Clearwater. Ober won Manatee County's only two region titles at the Long Center, topping the field in both the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyles to clinch her place in the Class 2A championship next Saturday in Stuart.
T.C. Smith, a defending state champ in the 500 freestyle, settled for a pair of second-place finishes, which still guarantees his place at Sailfish Splash Waterpark, finishing second in both the 500- and 200-freestyle events.
The top two individual swimmers in each event are guaranteed a spot in the state 2A championship. The remainder of the field will be filled by the next 16 best times regardless of region. For relays, only region champions are guaranteed to advance.
Class 1A-Region 3
Bradenton Christian's Anna Freed followed a Class 1A-District 8 title in the 100-yard backstroke with a Class 1A-Region 3 championship Friday in Fort Myers.
Freed was one of three area swimmers to win region titles at FGCU Aquatics Center. Out-of-Door Academy's Martin Baffico claimed the 100 butterfly title and Cardinal Mooney's Jillian Santiago finished first in the 100 freestyle. Baffico and Santiago also clinched a spot in Stuart for the state final in one other event each. Baffico finished second in 100 backstroke and Santiago finished second in 200 freestyle at Florida Gulf Coast University.
The Cougars' Matthew Nutter was the only other area swimmer to remove any doubt Friday, finishing second in both the 100- and 200-freestyle events.
Where: Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center, Stuart
When: Class 1A, Friday; Class 2A, Saturday. Preliminaries, 9 a.m.; finals, 5:30 p.m.
Admission: $9 per session (2 sessions per day)