CANTON — How low can they go?
Area schools performed at a high level Friday — meaning low times — at the Division II State Swimming Championships.
Perkins, Port Clinton, St. Mary Central Catholic, Oak Harbor and Margaretta fielded swimmers in 21 events in the preliminary round. Today they will compete for titles in 13 of those events.
The area swimmers were led by St. Mary Central Catholic’s Michael Gallagher, who set a new state record in the boys 200 individual medley with a 1:52.53, beating the old mark of 1:53.00.
Gallagher knows the record in the prelims doesn’t earn him a state title.
“Sure it was good to get that,” he said. “But the more important thing is to stay focused and get ready for (today).”
The SMCC senior logged a time of 52.27 for third place in the 100 backstroke, in which he finished fifth in 2009.
Gallagher said last year’s finals experience is an advantage.
“With the atmosphere, the crowd really gets you going,” he said. “That will definitely help me tomorrow.”
The Sandusky Bay Conference landed a solid 1-2 punch in the girls 200 IM. Perkins’ Stephanie Gyurke takes the top prelim time, 2:05.55, into the championship heat today.
Gyurke will have a friend standing next to her, just not exclusively for support.
Port Clinton’s MacKenzie Stewart earned the second seed and lane No. 5 with a time of 2:07.12.
Gyurke said Stewart was “like a sister” to her.
“This is really great,” Gyurke said. “I’ve been working so hard this season. Everyone’s there to push you. It’s amazing.
“It’s great to have a friendly competition with someone else who’s there to push you like that.”
Gyurke’s success doesn’t end there. She also finished third in the 500 free with a time of 4:58.30, beating her seed time by more than nine seconds.
Stewart earned second place in her heat in the 100 breaststroke, with a 1:04.24.
Stewart, the top returning finisher (second in 2009), had the top seed coming into Friday’s preliminaries, but dropped back .31 seconds and into a comfortable second going into today’s final. The top time belongs to Liberty Union’s Maddie Lawhorn.
“It was kind of a relief not being first,” she said. “When you’re in first you can’t do any better. You’re always better going in seeded (lower).”
The Perkins’ 200 medley relay — featuring Kimberly Anglin, Katie Quinn, Camille Cremean and Jillian Chapman — earned a fifth-place finish and a chance at the state title.
“I feel like we can go even faster,” Chapman said.
“We will go faster, that’s obvious,” Cremean responded.
Five of six Perkins’ relays earned a chance to swim for the title: The girls 200 medley relay, their 200 freestyle relay (third, 1:38.55) and their 400 free relay (second, 3:36.43) will swim in the championship heat, as will the boys 400 freestyle relay (second, 3:12.94) and their 200 medley relay (third, 1:36.96).
Perkins’ Chris Waldock improved in the 100 butterfly, which he said was his “best event.”
Waldock said his fifth-place finish last season at state has increased the pressure, helping him prepare for today.
“It’s a good pressure,” he said. “It really started the day after my race last year. I’ve had 364 days to work on it.” He was eighth overall in the 200 IM (1:57.82), in which Gallagher set his record.
The Pirates’ Michael Mulvin earned a chance to swim in the 500 freestyle final. He said he is considering not swimming in the consolation heat of the 200 free so he’ll have more energy for the long-distance swim.
Perkins’ Jonathan Harris finished eighth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.53.
Port Clinton’s Allie Reynolds moved on in both of her events, grabbing eighth place in the 200 freestyle with a 1:55.70 for a chance at title. She’s automatically on the podium, which was her goal heading into the meet.
Reynolds is also the anchor of the 400 freestyle relay, which finished eighth in 3:39.76 and will swim for a state title.
The Pirates’ Katie Quinn finished eighth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:06.11. She’ll swim for the state championship in that and in two of Perkins’ relays.