There are eight swimmers from the Wellington High School swim team focused on earning a spot on the podium on Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Class 4A state swimming championships.
The venue for this year’s championships is the Sailfish Splash Waterpark in Stuart. According to WHS head swim coach Rich Whalen, he has four athletes who are only swimming on a relay team, and four swimmers competing in at least one individual event and as a member of a relay.
At the FHSAA state swim finals, each swimmer will swim his or her races during the morning preliminary session, where there are three heats of swimmers for each event with eight swimmers in each heat. Of those 24 swimmers competing in the morning preliminaries, the top eight will advance to the championship A finals that evening. The next fastest eight times will advance to the consolation B finals.
In the relays, there are 21 relay teams in each of the three relays — the 200-yard medley relay, the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 400-yard freestyle relay. The top 16 relay teams will advance to either the championship A finals or the consolation B finals that evening.
In the race for the team title at the Class 4A state championship, points will be awarded for swimmers and relay teams that compete in either the championship or consolation finals, with more points awarded in the championship final.
The eight swimmers from Wellington earned their spots based on their performances on Friday, Oct. 28 at a one-day regional meet at the Rosen Inn Fitness Center in Orlando.
The busiest swimmer for the Wolverines in Stuart will be sophomore Leorah Rotchin. She will swim the girls 200-yard freestyle, the girls 500-yard freestyle and is a member of the girls 400-yard freestyle relay team. Rotchin said her best event is the 200-yard freestyle, and she is hoping to swim the eight-lap race in under 1:54.00. Her qualifying time at the regional meet was 1:56.51.
According to Rotchin, the most difficult part of the 200-yard freestyle will be the stretch from 100 to 150 yards. This will be Rotchin’s second appearance at the state swimming finals. She appeared last year in this meet as a freshman in the 200-yard freestyle.
Senior teammate Jessica Smith will be competing for the second straight year. Just like last year, she will swim in the 500-yard freestyle. Her qualifying time at the recent regionals meet was 5:08.01. Her goal is to break the five-minute mark in this 20-lap race.
Both Rotchin and Smith have competed at past swim meets in Stuart and are looking forward to swimming again in that pool.
“I like it there because when I swim the 500, I can actually see my split times on the big scoreboard,” Smith said.
“I like that it’s a big pool, and I can clearly see the lane lines on the bottom of the pool,” Rotchin added.
Both Rotchin and Smith will also be swimming in the girls 400-yard freestyle relay. They will be joined by freshman Natalie Honzik and sophomore Mackenzie Ocasio.
In the boys competition, two of the individual swimmers are a pair of brothers, freshman Andreas DaSilva and junior Caleb DaSilva. Andreas will be swimming in the 100-yard backstroke, while Caleb will be swimming in the two sprint freestyle races: the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle. Andreas’ qualifying time in the 100-yard backstroke was 55.22. Caleb’s qualifying times were 21.85 in the 50-yard freestyle and 47.55 in the 100-yard freestyle. Caleb swam in both events at last year’s swimming championship, also held in Stuart.
Wellington will also be entering a squad in the boys 400-yard freestyle relay. The four swimmers on that team are senior Lleyton Jobin, freshman Dillon Metz and the two DaSilva brothers, Andreas and Caleb.
Whalen said that he anticipates strong performances by each of his swimmers and is confident that each will be competing on Saturday night in either the A or B finals, though he is expecting Caleb DaSilva to have the strongest times of any of the Wellington swimmers competing in Stuart.