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Wando girls' swim team won AAAAA state championship for fifth straight year

Wando girls' swim team state championship

The Wando girls’ state swim team poses with the state championship trophy.

The Wando girls’ swim team claimed its fifth straight State Championship title. The team dominated at the South Carolina High School League (SCHSL) AAAAA State Championship swim meet in North Charleston on Oct. 9.

“Winning the State Championship was the best experience ever,” said senior Sophie Frece, who has been on the team all four years and was the team captain this season. “I never felt so happy because I completed every year of my high school swimming career with a State Championship title. It was very emotional for me and there were a lot of tears.”

Frece won the 100-yard backstroke (56.11) and placed second in the 100-yard butterfly. Gil Shaw tied for first in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:04.07). The team took home two relay gold medals in the 200-yard medley relay with Frece, Shaw, Illy Lightfoot and Eliza Baxter (1:45.80) and the 400-yard freestyle relay with Frece, Shaw Baxter and Halle Schart (3:36.58).

The team finished with 412 points; the runner up was Fort Mill High School with 297.50 points.

“Winning five straight state titles to me just means that we have put in the work,” said Head Coach Cheryl Durden. “We go to the pool every morning before school and we train. We work hard and we play hard.”

The state championship win is the program’s seventh state title overall.

Frece said the state championship meet was her final chance to show colleges that she would be a worthy addition to their team. She started swimming competitively at eight years old, and she hopes to secure a spot on a college team.

“Swimming at Wando has been the best experience for me,” Frece said. “I think everyone should have as much spirit for their school as much as my team does for Wando. As captain, I tried to make the best of my experience and be the leader I knew I could be.”

She said she helped organize activities for the team outside of the pool. They ate out as a team after every swim meet, made t-shirts, had a team breakfast and dressed up for the meet against Lucy Beckham High School.

Durden said next season they will have a young team. They’re losing 15 seniors, but Durden hopes that the younger swimmers have learned from the older ones and can continue to emulate their success.

“I am hoping to build this new team of young swimmers into competitive champions,” Durden said.

Durden said she is proud to coach each swimmer. “You don’t always have to speak about your accolades, your actions show it,” she said.

She quoted professional basketball player Candace Parker after winning the 2021 WNBA championship: “Just put your head down, continue to work, do what’s right, be a good person, work hard, give energy, and the world will give back to you.”

Wando’s State Meet swimmers include:

Sophie Frece

Gil Shaw

Eliza Baxter

Kendall Bensen

Regan Leach

Halle Schart

Illy Lightfoot

Caitlin Mason

Mara Goodrich

Kate Green

Amadea Friedl

Caroline Bierman

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