Aquakats send record number to regionals


photo or infographic by Kelsey Soape

HEADED TO THE PODIUM. At the district meet in Magnolia, senior Caroline Taylor helps her relay make it to regional competition.

The Tomball ISD Aquatic Center was loud. The natatorium fills with the deafening cheers of spectators, coaches and other swimmers as the swimmer takes the blocks.

“Swimmers take your mark,” is heard before the beep that signals the start of the race. 

The hours in the pool and the early morning practices all come down to this. In a sport where hundredths of seconds matter, the swimmer knows every moment of every second could mean the difference between a medal and going home with nothing.

Fifty-two seconds later the race is over. Sophomore Zach Clark finished second earning a silver medal. It was just one reason for the Wildkats to celebrate at the district meet on January 26th in Tomball.

“The team overall did the best its done in a long time,” Clark said. “Everyone, including me, had awesome times. I got second in my 100 free and 5th in my 50 free then in the relays we got 4th and 6th. My goals for regionals are to make it finals and hopefully place in the top 5th and maybe go go state.”

The team is sending individuals and relays to the regional meet this Friday and Saturday in Magnolia.

“As we stood behind the blocks at district, it hit me,” junior Maci Konen said. “This is for real. This is for regionals.”

Konen is part of two relay teams who will compete at regionals. She is joined by senior Caroline Taylor, freshman Kate McDowell and senior Sloane Veronico in the 200 yard medley relay.

“It is my last year,” Taylor said. “I am excited to see how we do at regionals. Our medley girls relay is ranked 6th. We have a chance to place at regionals and that is exciting.”

The swimmers have worked to grow the program. The struggles of not having a pool at the school and not having a swim class has often prevented growth. But a strong summer swim team, many of the students swimming on club teams and and a new swim class has helped develop talent for the program.

“I have been on the Kats club swim team for five years, and I have been doing that to prepare,” freshman Payton Sewell said.

Sewell won silver in the 500 free-style. He set a school record for the event at the Tomball meet several weeks then broke that record with his 5:01.02 race at district.

“It felt really good to get 2nd place,” he said. “I want to get top three at regions. That is my goal in the 500.”

Freshman Kate McDowell won a bronze medal in the backstroke. She is also hoping for a shot at state.

“I work very hard at what I do,” McDowell said. “I think life is good.”

 For the seniors, regionals may be there last time in the pool as a Wildkat. They know the importance of being a team.

 “Working as a team is a great feeling and gives great support,” senior Evan Harper said. “We got here through hard work and dedication. We have been practicing and hope to make it to the top because of it.”

District results: 

  • 4th girls 200-yard medley relay – Caroline Taylor, Kate McDowell, Maci Konen and Sloane Veronico with a time of 2:01.63.
  • 6th boys 200-yard medley relay – Peyton Sewell, Oliver Bowling, Zach Clark, Bradford Parker with a time of 1:51.95.
  • 6th 200-yard freestyle – Kate McDowell with a time of  2:23.46.
  • 3rd boys 200-yard individual medley – Peyton Sewell with a time of 2:14.50.
  • 4th girls 1-meter diving – Blaire Levergne with a dive scoring 281.10.
  • 2nd boys 100-yard freestyle – Zach Clark  with a time of 52.25.
  • 2nd boys 500-yard freestyle – Peyton Sewell with a time of 5:01.02.
  • 6th girls 200-yard freestyle relay – Maci Konen, Caroline Taylor, Shelby Brown, Sloane Veronico with a time of  1:53.20.
  • 4th boys 200-yard freestyle – Peyton Sewell, Oliver Bowling, Bradford Parker, Zach Clark with a time of 1:39.76.
  • 3rd girls 100-yard backstroke – Kate McDowell with a time of 1:04.26.
  • 5th boys 100-breaststroke – Oliver Bowling with a time of  1:10.18.
  • 4th girls 400-yard freestyle relay – Maci Konen, Caroline Taylor, Emily Smith, Kate McDowell with a time of 4:15.94.
  • 6th boys 400-yard freestyle – Brooks Cesan, Jeremy Harper, Evan Harper, Oliver Bowling with a time of 4:23.89 .