Seabreeze swimmers are in the top 10 in two state championships
Five Seabreeze swimmers navigated a cold, rainy morning to compete in the state championships held at Sailfish Water Park and Aquatic Center in Stewart on November 5.
Seniors Claire Cassidy, Jordyn Eckert, junior Caleb Orchard and freshmen Mackenzie O’Keefe and Zed Nichols qualified the previous week at the regional meeting in Fort Pierce.
The girls’ medley relay started 200 yards from today. Cassidy, Eckert, Nichols and O’Keefe were excited about the race when Cassidy launched herself outside the rookie block. Everything seemed to run smoothly until the electrical sensor detected that the fourth swimmer had started 0.01 of a second early. The quartet was excluded.
“It’s heartbreaking, but with technology, it happens,” said Seabreeze coach John Nonelli. “At least they got here. I’d rather it happen here and not in the Regionals.”
Orchard followed at 50 free yards. Even with a wall slip in his turn, he swam 22.69 which equates to 0.2 seconds of his best time.
“It was a bad role and I slipped against the wall, but I still had the best of times,” he said.
Orchard and Cassidy swam the 100 free yards among a group of strong runners. In the boys’ preliminaries, all 24 swimmers clocked in under 50 seconds, while the girls came in under 58 seconds.
O’Keefe qualified to swim in the 100-yard butterfly final, improving her time by 59.29 and placing ninth in the state. The girls also managed to redeem themselves in the 200-yard freestyle relay final by carving out nearly a second from the qualifying time and placing them in 10th place.
Approximately 20 out of 50 swimmers at Seabreeze are beginners with a third of them swimming throughout the year with the club’s team. Nonelli is looking forward to what he will achieve next season.
“You have to swim year-round if you want to get to that level,” he said. “If you only swim three months out of the year for the high school season, it’s really hard to get to the next level. Getting into the pool consistently is the main thing.”