ALBUQUERQUE — There’s no way around it: The Clovis High swim team is young. A quick purview of the roster reveals that the squad has only one senior among the 20 members.
The youth showed a little when the New Mexico state swimming and diving championships began on Friday — even with the swimmers who performed at or above expectations.
Clovis sophomore Jill Southard qualified for the finals in two events, a first in school history, by posting one of the top eight times in the 100-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle races in the preliminary round.
The Wildcats were also hoping for either sophomore Nick de Maio or eighth-grader Lucas Brock to qualify for finals in the 200-yard boys freestyle. But Brock, with the 12th-fastest time, and de Maio (15th overall) will swim in today’s consolation finals race instead.
CHS, however, posted a moral victory of sorts, and may have overtaken some of the nerves at the end of the day.
The 400-freestyle boys relay team for the Cats was initially disqualified when Brock dropped into the water off the starting block — after the race starter ordered the participants to stand up on the blocks.
After Clovis coach Vince de Maio vigorously protested, his team got another shot in the last heat of the day.
Again, Brock fell into the water in a false start — this time with no consequence. When the race finally got going, Clovis’ relay team finished with a time of 3:37.63 which was good enough for 14th overall.
“Lucas is an eighth-grader in a real big spot and he handled it great,” Vince de Maio said. “They came up there and put up a new school record. We’re very proud of all those guys to get through that.
“They were in a position they had never been in before, even Jill for that matter, and they had the natural jitters. But we were right at best times.”
The finals for swimming begin at 11:30 a.m. today at Albuquerque Academy.
Southard said that certain elements of the state meet may have distracted her, including the crowded warm-up pool.
“Everybody was going too slow,” said the Clovis sophomore, who had the sixth-fastest time in the 200 freestyle and fifth in the 500 freestyle.
“I’m very tired. I was OK in the 200, but it’s just been a long day. The 500 was OK. I got a 5:31 and my goal was a 5:27. The chick in lane three (Mollie Kleyboecker of Sandia Prep), we were neck-and-neck but I just couldn’t keep up with her.”