Athletes of the Year_Elysse Pardus and Addie Laurencelle.JPG

Porter-Gaud's Elysse Pardus and Bishop England's Addie Laurencelle are the swimming All-Lowcountry Athletes of the Year. Lauren Petracca/Staff

On his way to a full height of 6-foot-6, Addie Laurencelle tried his hand at most sports while growing up. Basketball, baseball, hockey and lacrosse filled most of his time.

"Swimming was always in the background a little bit," Laurencelle says.

That changed after Laurencelle's freshman year of high school, sparked by words of wisdom from a coach and a move from Boston to Charleston.

"My coach told me if I put my mind to swimming, I could so some amazing things," Laurencelle recalled. "And so after we moved here for my sophomore year, I decided just to swim and see how it goes for a year. Best choice I ever made."

Now a senior at Bishop England, Laurencelle capped off a standout high school career with gold medals in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle at the Class AAA state swimming championships. He also led the Bishops' 200-yard relay team to gold.

Laurencelle was the fastest swimmer in the Lowcountry in the freestyle sprint races to earn the 2018 All-Lowcountry boys' swimmer of the year honor. Porter-Gaud's Elysse Pardus took the girls' swimmer of the year award after leading the Cycles to a SCISA state title.

Laurencelle is the top-ranked swimmer in the state in the 50 and 100 free, and is headed to Cal Berkeley, which has finished first or second in the last nine NCAA championships.

At the 2016 Olympics, six Cal swimmers brought home 11 medals, eight of them gold.

"I'll be swimming with Olympians pretty much every day," Laurencelle said. "It's the best men's team in the NCAA. Ultimately, I chose Cal because they are the one team that could make me better. I'm not sure any other team could have done that.

"When I'm around people who are better than me, that forces me to train harder, to go harder and swim faster. And there's no place better for that than Berkeley."

Laurencelle provides the same motivation for his teammates at Bishop England and at his year-round club, SC Swim.

One of those SC Swim teammates is Porter-Gaud's Pardus, who was the All-Lowcountry swimmer of the year in 2016.

This year, Pardus tool gold in the 200 freestyle at the SCISA state meet, setting a state record of 1:52.59. She also won gold in the 100 butterfly in 55.68 seconds as Porter-Gaud's boys and girls teams both won their fourth straight state title.

Pardus was the fastest in the Lowcountry in those two events. Her younger sister, Kaila Pardus, also won two individual golds at the SCISA state meet and was the fastest in the Lowcountry in the 100 breast stroke with a time of 1:05.88, also a SCISA state record.

"We are very competitive," Elysse said of her sister, who is 10 months younger. "We swim different events, but we're still very competitive as to who can get higher qualifications and things like that."

With another year of high school swimming ahead of her, Pardus is still pondering college choices.

In Class AAAAA swimming this year, Wando won both the girls and boys state titles, with the boys' Matthew Gush claiming an individual gold in the 500 free. From the Wando girls' team, Callie Johnson and Meghan Slowey had top times in the Lowcountry in the 200 IM and 500 free, respectively.

Berkeley's Sarah Mundy, the 2017 All-Lowcountry swimmer of the year, had top times in the 50 and 100 free.

ALL-LOWCOUNTRY SWIMMING

Boys First Team

200-yard freestyle

Davis Caldwell, Wando, 1:46.09

200 individual medley

Daniel Kassis, Porter-Gaud, 1:55.94

50 freestyle

Addie Laurencelle, Bishop England, 20.79

100 butterfly

Chad Waldrop, West Ashley, 52.13

100 freestyle

Addie Laurencelle, Bishop England, 46.08

500 freestyle

Matthew Gush, Wando, 4:42.18

100 backstroke

Willem Goedecke, Porter-Gaud, 51.62

100 breast stroke

Cameron Mehta, Wando, 59.94

Honorable Mention

Wando: Cal Frame, Ethan Caldwell, Widman Woodhull, Noah Davey, Haden Condrey, Shane McDavid, CJ Hills, GiYoung Kim; Ashley Ridge: Noah Boykin, Connor Erling, Ethan Williams, Collin Phipps, John Weakley; Academic Magnet: Stephen Savage, Daniel Nichols, Jack Levenson, Zachary Moody, Sam White, Jack Austin, Charles Blanc, Charles Olsen, Walton Mosley, Jeremy Garza, Josh Adams, Seth Early, Eric Beaver, Ryan Troy; Bishop England: Josh Adams, Evan Arnet, JT Brace, Griffin Murphy, Ben Atwood, Noland Griffith, Ethan Griffith; Oceanside: Philip Klein, Johnny Bott; Porter-Gaud: James Winterfield, Michael Shipman, Mills Long, Nathaniel Ford, Gavin Milligan, Tate Hughes, Rhett Andrews, Sebastian Pasanella, Burke Thompson; West Ashley: Gray Gladwell, Quentin Earl, Justin Sage, Carson Owens; Fort Dorchester: Mason Dupree, Dylan Routhier; Pinewood Prep: Daniel Grimes; Lowcountry Prep: Jake Flaherty; Summerville: Garrett Tupper; Hanahan: Nick Falgey; Palmetto Christian: Will Vandergrift, Milaan Raj; First Baptist: Burke Arredondo.

Girls First Team

200 freestyle

Elysse Pardus, Porter-Gaud, 1:52.59

200 individual medley

Callie Johnson, Wando, 2:08.51

50 free

Sarah Mundy, Berkeley, 23.85

100 butterfly

Elysse Pardus, Porter-Gaud, 55.68

100 free

Sarah Mundy, Berkeley, 52.50

500 free

Meghan Slowey, Wando, 5:16.18

100 backstroke

Ann Thompson, Porter-Gaud, 58.82

100 breast stroke

Kaila Pardus, Porter-Gaud, 1:05.88

Honorable Mention

Wando: Gabi Reed, Kelsey Kraft, Lili Hamilton, Anna Sawyer, Halle Schart, Ellis Pitts, Sophia Vanderpool, Jenna Thrift, Mary Shaw, Sophie Frece, Illyanna Lightfoot, Estelle Bauer, Meredith Jones, Caitlin Mason, Paige Schart; Cane Bay: Vivian Nelson; Porter-Gaud: Alexa Johnson, Katherine Geils, Eliza Ford; Fort Dorchester: McKenzie Fennell, Anna Polomsky, Abbie Hassell, Madelyn Routhier; James Island: Emma Scott, Paisley Hodges, Katie Beebe; Bishop England: Bella Kissell, Eliza Stanley, Jill Smiley, Claudia White, Catherine Soper; Academic Magnet: Malia Borg, Skyler Ayers, Genevieve Geils, Mia Matthews; Palmetto Christian: Katie Grace Vandergrift; West Ashley: Gigi Fusco; Oceanside: Kendal Chunn, Autumn Martin, Chrisman Rand, Jordan Duffie; Ashley Hall: Kate McEvoy; Pinewood Prep: Brea Fields; Ashley Ridge: Hannah Grover.

Coaches of the Year: Mike Walsh, Porter-Gaud; Cheryl Durden, Wando.

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC