The sound of splashing water echoes around the Texas Swim Center as swimmers dive head first into the water at the UIL State Swimming competition. LASA junior Aidan Dulaney, freshman Ava Longi, junior Andrew Stowers, freshman Lucas Abounader and junior Alex Mancevski, all LBJ Swimmers, all qualified for State swimming after strong finishes in the regional competition. The 5A State Championship occurred Feb. 17 and 18 for both girls and boys. Dulaney finished fourth in the B final for the 500 freestyle, Mancevski finished sixth in the 200 individual medley final and Longi finished fourth in the B final for the 50 freestyle and sixth in the championship final for the 100 freestyle. Unfortunately, the boys 200 relay medley was disqualified by an early start in the final; Mancevski was still happy with the results.
“[State] was very fun,” Mancevski said. “I was especially glad to be joined by four of my teammates for the first time. At State, the competition is really tough but that’s what makes it such an interesting experience.”
Along with her finishes in her respective finals, Longi also broke two school records in both the 50 and 100 freestyle for girls. According to the LBJ sports website for swimming and diving, the record for the 50 freestyle was previously held by LBJ swimmers K Ternes and M Flanagan in the 100 freestyle. Longi hopes to continue setting and breaking records in her competitions.
“I didn’t actually know we even had school records to break until regionals, and someone told me I was really close,” Longi said. “I didn’t realize until after State was over that I had broken them, so it was a pleasant surprise. One was 17 years old and another was I think nine years old, so it was also a big accomplishment for the team. I hope to break more of the records next year.”
The LBJ swim team had a very competitive district competition, according to Swimming and Diving Head Coach Chloe Cardinale. Both the boys and the girls team placed fifth in total points scored at the District Championship meet. Cardinale was pleased with how district and regionals went.
“It was awesome,” Cardinale said. “It was the most competitive team I’ve ever had. Our district is so much harder now that they’ve added about four new teams in the district. We placed very well at districts and at regionals we had a lot of kids there, it was the most number of kids I’ve had go on to finals at regionals, and then also move on to state. It was the most competitive season I’ve seen in my six years.”
LBJ Swimming and Diving has a strong history of competing at the state level. In 2000, they finished first in the district championship, regional and state meets that year. According to Cardinale, LBJ swimming was not as competitive for the next 10 years, but due to an influx of competitive students, they have seen a resurgence in their qualifiers for Region and State meets.
“In the early 2000s we were very competitive, and there was a swim coach that took a lot of effort to recruiting specific swimmers to this school, so we did really well,” Cardinale said. “You don’t really come to LASA to be an athlete, so for the next 10 years, it wasn’t the most competitive team…We would do really well but we wouldn’t do well outside of our district. Now, we have an influx of super competitive kids into this school and they are good at everything they do, so the level of competition is ramping up again.”
With the season over, the swimmers and coach have looked to next season for hopefully a strong swimming and diving story this year. Cardinale wishes for the swimmers to just have a fun extracurricular activity to de-stress with. Mancevski hopes to become a better swimmer for next year and get a podium finish.
“I hope to become a faster swimmer by training more over the summer, but I also hope to become a better captain as this year I was able to learn a lot,” Mancevski said.