When senior Sarah Browning met the wall at the finish of her state championship heat in the 500m freestyle, nobody had to check the scoreboard to see who won. She dominated the competition with a time of 5:10.16, 12 seconds better than the second place finisher.
Browning, who qualified for the state championships for her third straight season, pulled away from the competition early in the race and saw it steadily increase until the finish.
“I felt so happy that all my hard work had finally paid off,” Browning said, “I felt really good in the water. One girl gave me trouble in the beginning but I knew I could pass and outlast her.”
Browning also placed third in the 200m individual medley, her favorite race in high school swimming, with a time of 2:12.55.
“My favorite event is actually the 400m individual medley, but sadly that’s not swam in high school, I like the 400m better than the 200m individual medley because I’m a distance swimmer and I’m good at individual medleys so combine them and it’s great,” she said.
Browning had originally placed fourth but a disqualification moved her into third place.
“I was happy with it,” she said, “I didn’t do close to what I wanted in prelims so I was happy with my place and time in finals,”
Browning was also a difference maker in the girls 200m freestyle relay in which she swam the anchor leg. She paired with senior Katrina Gauntt and freshmen Mattie Grant and Claire Simmons to place second at the regional meet to become the first relay team in four years to compete at the state level. The team placed ninth at the state championships.
Grant also competed in the 200m freestyle, earning her spot on the podium with a fifth place finish. She also placed tenth in the 100m butterfly. Senior Katrina Gauntt qualified and placed 12th in the 100m backstroke.
The men’s team placed 29th in the state meet. Sophomore Garrett Gauntt took ninth place in the 100m backstroke and 12th in the 500m freestyle.