The 2018 GHSA Swimming and Diving State Championships return to Georgia Tech’s McAuley Aquatic Center. Swimmers and divers from Class AAAAAAA and Class AAAAAA will compete for individual state titles, and individuals in Class AAAAA through Class A are grouped together in the lower division. For the first time ever, the team championships will be broken down into four divisions: Class AAAAAAA; Class AAAAAA; Class AAAAA and Class AAAA; and Class AAA to Class A.
For the team championships, the new 7A division features a Brookwood boys squad looking for its third-straight championship. Last season, the Broncos took the title in the 7A-6A division with 233.5 points, ahead of Mill Creek (209) and Lambert (196). Brookwood recently won the Gwinnett County Swimming Championships, beating North Gwinnett by a score of 1,055-956. The Broncos’ Keegan Walsh, Grant Clark, Drew Grier and Aidan Stoffle took the victory over Parkview in the 200-yard medley relay. Their teammate Dylan Scott placed second in the 200-yard freestyle.
Walsh, a Georgia commit, is a leading senior for the Broncos. Nathaniel Stoffle (1:54.80) finished third behind Walsh (1.54:43) in the 200-yard individual medley in which Collins Hill’s Andrew Winston (1:48.02) took first. Winston’s time in the 200-yard medley is the fastest of the year for the classification, falling a couple of seconds shy of Gunnar Bentz’s state record of 1:45.55 set in 2014.
On the girls side, Walton dethroned Lambert in the 7A-6A division last season in commanding, and record-setting, fashion. This year, both teams will be back at it in the 7A division. Last year, the Lady Raiders set a state record in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:33.50) to give the team 48 points and help it top Lambert 366-243. Walton also set the state record for the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:24.44) with seniors Evan Arsenault, Gabby Gauntt and Emma Cole and junior Melissa Cox, who is back as a strong contender in several events.
In last year’s 50-yard freestyle, Arsenault, then-freshman Jasmin Hoffman and Cox finished second, third and fourth, respectively, to grab 60 points. The win marked the Walton girls’ second swimming title and first since 1988. On Jan. 20, Cox swam a 23.81 in the 50-yard freestyle, the fastest time in the classification this season just in front of North Gwinnett’s Chantal Jordan. Brookwood, a top challenger, holds the fastest time this season in the 200-yard freestyle relay at 1:36.83.
In diving, Collins Hill junior Peter Smithson looks to defend his title in the highest classification. Colquitt County senior Parker Hardigree was state champion his freshman and sophomore seasons but was dethroned by Smithson last year. Sequoyah senior Rachel Renner is the girls defending champ.
St. Pius X will look to defend its team title, and this year it will compete in the Class 5A-4A division. The Golden Lions defeated two-time defending champion Westminster last year in the division comprising Class AAAAA and smaller. Junior Ian Grum, who returns this year with hopes of defending the team title, took second place (4:31.05) in the 500-yard freestyle at state last year. In early December, Grum (1:46.14) and teammate Caleb Duval (1:48.44) set the Golden Lions’ low times for the season in the 200-yard freestyle. On the year, Mt. Paran’s Mitchell Norton holds the fastest time in the lower division for the 200-yard freestyle at 1:43.20. Jefferson’s Jackson Harvin is just over one second behind with a 1:44.46. Grum’s time is fourth-fastest in the class.
On the girls side, Marist will be looking to defend its title for the fourth year in a row after taking the lower division last year. Marist edged Chamblee 219-210 to take last year’s 5A-A trophy. The Lady War Eagles were led by Elizabeth Bailey (now at Cal-Berkeley), who won state in the 200-yard freestyle (1:51.11) and placed second in the 100-yard butterfly.
Greater Atlanta Christian senior diver Anthony Stewart placed second at state last season with a score of 514.65. Marist’s Ellie Crump also placed second (509.05) as a junior a year ago.