SHINNSTON— After being faced with two grueling days of competition, combined with some unfavorable weather conditions, several members of the Grafton Gators Swim Team found themselves atop the podium at the conclusion of the recent championship meet.
21 Gators traveled to Shinnston on Friday, July 16 and Saturday, July 17 to take part in the North Central West Virginia Swimming Championship Meet.
Although the group was faced with some intense temperatures and several rain delays throughout the weekend, the Grafton swimmers remained focused on the goal that lay ahead, defining all odds and taking to the pool with a winning mindset.
According to Gator coaches, the meet boasted more than a dozen programs from all over North Central West Virginia with over 400 swimmers taking to the pool, pinning Grafton up against some fierce competitors, only to prove that the Gators possess a few formidable opponents of their own.
Of the 21 Grafton swimmers who attended the meet, 11 of those glided through the waters in near perfection during preliminaries and claimed hard earned slots in the finals.
The Gators ended the weekend with stellar performances and top finishes, earning top ten finishes in 16 events.
The Boys 11-12 200 Meter Free Relay team for the Gators were the first to earn a top finish for Grafton, cutting through the water and beating out an experienced Shinnston team by nearly ten seconds to take fourth place in that event with a time of 3:06.31.
Also earning points for their team were Bella Lemon, finishing tenth in the Girls 13-14 50 Meter Backstroke and seventh in the Girls 13-14 100 Meter Freestyle; Patrick Foley, who claimed ninth in the Boys 13-14 50 Meter Backstroke; and Trenton Smith, who took a respectable sixth place finish in the Boys 11-12 100 Meter Freestyle with a time of 1:27.08.
In the Boys 15-18 50 Meter Butterfly, standout William Angus tied Shinnston’s Brian Ngo for a tenth-place finish with a time of 32.18.
Angus didn’t let that performance hinder the remainer of the meet and would go on to take fifth in the Boys 15018 200 Meter IM and took a trip to the podium for his time of 32.05 in the Boys 15-18 50 Meter Backstroke event, a quick enough time to earn him the third-place seat.
Leading the way for the Gators were two of their younger members, who despite only swimming competitively for a short period of time, made big splashes and blew the competition out of the water in their respected events.
Ten-year-old Bryton Andrews entered the water with determination that greatly paid off.
Andrews took to the platform in the Boys 9-10 25 Meter Butterfly and stunned his opponents, as well as spectators, powering his way to a second-place finish with a time of 21.63.
Finding his stride with the Butterfly stroke, he also made his way to the top earning first place in the boys 9-10 50 Meter Butterfly event, beating out the runner-up by a nearly six seconds.
Another outstanding swimmer for the Gators was ten-year-old Dylan Stead.
Stead started the meet off strong claiming a third-place finish early in the Boys 9-10 50 Meter Breaststroke with a time of 50.63; from there he would continue to breeze by the competition.
He went on to take fourth in the Boys 9-10 50 Meter Free and swam his way to another third-place finish in the Boys 9-10 25 Meter Breaststroke recording a time of 24.03.
Stead continued to rack up the points with a second-place finish in the Boys 9-10 100 Meter IM tagging the pad for a finishing time of 1:49.39.
As the meet was winding down, Stead found motivation and a hunger for more, and with a time of 51.53, he secured the first-place victory in his final event; the Boys 9-10 50 Meter Backstroke.
With Stead’s top finishes he quickly tallied 23 individual points on the day, almost half of the team’s points, which earned him the Second Runner-up High Point award.
And although the Gators didn’t come out on top of the meet, finishing in 11th place, the coaching staff shared that this meet was about so much more than the wins.
“This was truly a great experience for our swimmers who may be new to the sport,” commented Gator coaches. “They got to see what it takes to compete at this level, and it will be the driving force behind their dive next season. We are proud of all our members that took the plunge regardless of where they placed or if they placed at all. It takes a great deal of bravery to dive into a pool Infront of hundreds of competitors and spectators.”