Mackenzie O’Keefe placed ninth in the 100-yard butterfly, while the girls 200-yard freestyle relay finished 10th.
Five Seabreeze swimmers traversed a cold, rainy morning to compete at the state championship held at the Sailfish Water Park and Aquatic Center in Stuart on Nov. 5.
Seniors Clare Cassidy and Jordyn Eckert, junior Caleb Orchard and freshmen Mackenzie O’Keefe and ZZ Nichols had qualified the week before at the regional meet in Fort Pierce.
The girls 200-yard medley relay started off the day. Cassidy, Eckert, Nichols and O’Keefe were amped about the race as Cassidy launched herself off of the starter’s block. Everything seemed to have gone smoothly until the electric sensor detected that there was an early start by the fourth swimmer by .01 of a second. The quartet was disqualified.
“Heartbreaking, but with technology, it happens,” Seabreeze coach John Nunnelley said. “At least they made it here. I’d rather it happen here than at regionals.”
Orchard followed in the 50-yard freestyle. Even with a slip on the wall at his turn, he swam a 22.69 which was .2 of a second shy of his best time.
“I had a bad turn and slipped on the wall, but I still had one of my best times,” he said.
Orchard and Cassidy each swam in the 100-yard freestyle amidst a pool of powerful sprinters. In the boys preliminaries, all 24 swimmers were clocked at under 50 seconds, while the girls came in under 58 seconds.
O’Keefe qualified to swim in the 100-yard butterfly final, in which she bettered her time with a 59.29 and placed ninth in the state. The girls were also able to redeem themselves in the 200-yard freestyle relay final by shaving off almost a second off their qualifying time and finishing a strong 10th.
Approximately 20 out of 50 Seabreeze swimmers are freshmen with one-third swimming year-round with a club team. Nunnelley is looking forward to what the next season will bring.
“You’ve got to swim year round if you want to make it to this level,” he said. “If you are just swimming three months out of the year for the high school season, it’s going to be really hard to get to the next level. Getting into the pool consistently is the main thing.”