Rockdale comes out on top at swim meet
Lady Patriots' relay team first ever to make state in school history

CONYERS - The Rockdale swim team captured the top spot Thursday night in a five-team meet with Heritage, Loganville, Monroe Area and Eastside.

Rockdale finished first on the boys side with 386 points and second on the girls side with 446, giving Rockdale the top spot overall with 832 points. Loganville (724 combined) and Heritage (680) rounded out the top three.

Rockdale coach Stephen Sansing said the win was the result of a total team effort.

"I've been preaching to them about getting out of their comfort zone," he said. "The guys especially tonight really reached out and that was key in the win tonight - that, and being able to maximize everybody's potential, girls and boys. We were able to use our numbers and fill up events. If you compare where we are now to where we were this time last year, we are much better now."

Rockdale placed first in the girls 200-yard freestyle relay in 1 minute, 53.35 seconds. Rockdale took first (4:29.04) and second (4:43.88) in the boys 400 freestyle relay. Rockdale also notched second place in the girls 400 freestyle relay in 4:28.84.

Individually, Rockdale received first-place finishes from Jake Grant (boys 500 freestyle, 7:18.88) and Lauren Troxler (girls 100 backstroke, 1:08.34). Grant also took second in the boys 500 freestyle (2:31.31).

Other notable performances were turned in by Aaron Bullock, who finished second in the boys 500 freestyle (7:30.79) and fourth in the boys 200 freestyle (2:41.18). Melanie Wright swam her way to a second-place finish in the girls 100 butterfly (1:07.05).

"The swimmers are swimming hard, and their times are dropping like a rock," Rockdale assistant coach Marty Murphy said. "They've really taken to the drills we had them do this year, which has really helped them with their technique. They're finding their balance."

Meanwhile, Heritage coach Mike Talley said although he wasn't pleased with the outcome, he liked the effort he got from his swimmers.

"We swam well. We were very excited to qualify a girls relay team for state," Talley said. "Weekday meets are just tough sometimes. Still, they dropped times, and we'll be ready at the county meet."

Heritage took first place in the boys 200 medley relay (1:53.62) and the boys 200 free relay (1:37.40). The Heritage girls placed second in the 200 medley relay (2:10.84) and the 200 free relay (153.42).

The Heritage girls 200 freestyle relay team is the first in school history to qualify for the state meet.

"It was awesome," Heritage relay team member Rebecca Bradley said. "It was probably the most exciting experience I've ever had at the pool."

Individually, Heritage received first-place finishes from Kat Baize (girls 50 freestyule, 28.31) and Bradley (girls 100 breaststroke, 1:21.47). Chad Bamsey (boys 100 backstroke, 1:46.47) and Brad Hardin (boys 100 butterfly, 1:08.41) added second-place finishes.

Heritage swims again today at the Clarke-Oconee Invitational at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Eastside, using just two swimmers, had a solid night in the pool as both swimmers finished in the top two of their respective events.

Drew Ellwanger placed first in the boys 200 individual medley (2:07.25) and in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.79). Teammate Nijyl Chavis placed second in the boys 50 freestyle (24.30) and the boys 100 breaststroke (1:06.11).

Brandon Evans can be reached at brandon.evans@rockdalecitizen.com.