Taylor Vargo stood poolside Saturday night during the championship finals of the 100 breaststroke.
Vargo, a sophomore at Sandusky, could only watch during the Division I finals since her preliminary swim wasn't enough to put her in the top eight to qualify. Instead of defending her state title, Vargo swam in and won the consolation final at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton.
"I'm happier than I was yesterday. But it's sad watching the finals," Vargo said after swimming a 1:05.21 to place ninth.
"I'm happy for her. (Friday) was probably one of her biggest disappointments, and she didn't quit," coach Tommy Patterson said. "She went out and got back in the pool."
Her consolation swim would have put her fifth in the championships heat, which Mayfield senior Alana Arnold won in 1:03.61.
"It makes me sad. Maybe this will motivate me to come back (knowing) this is what I've got to do," Vargo said.
On Friday, she sat behind the starting blocks, almost with a look of disbelief, and shook her head once she knew she couldn't defend her title.
"It's just one of those things that happens to anyone," Patterson said. "She has nothing to be ashamed of."
Because of the setback, Patterson said Vargo could become a better swimmer.
"Hopefully it'll motivate me to be the best I can be, and step up and train harder," Vargo said. "Hopefully it motivates me to go faster."
She did that Saturday night, looking smoother and lowering both of her splits (31.0 and 34.21 from a 31.46 and 34.76) from a day earlier.
As a freshman, Vargo won the first state swim title by a Blue Streak girl when she topped the field on a 1:04.61 in the final. Earlier this week, Vargo said she would be satisfied with a top three finish.
Vargo's prelim effort Friday, a 1:06.22, was the 10th best time overall and two spots away from the championship berth -- the cutoff was a 1:05.93.
Vargo described Friday as a "sophomore slump."
"They happen to the best of us. But I still get two more years to do better," she said Saturday.
She finished her first race, the 200 freestyle, in 1:56.27, placing 16th in the event. Vargo was 15th in the 200 freestyle a year ago (1:55.31).
For the second straight day, Vargo competed in bookend events of the meet, swimming the first individual race, the 200 free, and the last individual event, the breaststroke.
She was in the water for the 200 at about 4:25 p.m., then had a two-and-a-half-hour break before she re-entered the pool for the breaststroke at 7:05.
Vargo came into the 200 freestyle consolation with a preliminary swim of 1:55.42, and her seed time from the Div. I district championships on Feb. 18 was a 1:54.88.
There were four state champions a year ago, and two -- Vargo and Port Clinton's MacKenzie Stewart -- returned this year. There were no state champs from the area this year, with Stewart's third-place swim in the Division II 200IM as he top finish.
"It's not that we thought the state got faster. It was a rough and tough day," Patterson said. "We've got to find a way to get better."