Aiken Hornets, South Aiken T-Breds off to fast starts in the pool

  • Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 11:56 p.m.
    UPDATED: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 12:08 p.m.
Staff Photo by Eric Russell 
Competitors take off during men’s 100-yard butterfly race at Tuesday’s swim meet.
Staff Photo by Eric Russell Competitors take off during men’s 100-yard butterfly race at Tuesday’s swim meet.

The Aiken and South Aiken swim teams have gotten off to a fast start this season.

The two programs performed well in the first major invitational tournament of the season. Then on Tuesday night, they went on to have several first-place finishes in a meet at the Fermata Club which also included River Bluff. While the early results have the coaches and teams happy, each squad is eager to achieve more in the coming meets.

“We started out the season very, very good with our workouts, and it’s starting to pay dividends now,” Aiken head coach Dave Flanders said. “We’ve got a system in place that’s been successful for the last six years. We put it in place, and our goal is to be very fast in October.”

October is when the state championship meet will be held. Aiken, now competing at the Class AAA level, has already qualified for 24 events at the state meet. Getting into the state championship meet is what Flanders said the goal is early on. He isn’t as concerned with swimming their fastest times; he’s just looking to attempt to reach the goal of having every member compete in the state championship meet. The emphasis for the Hornets is to work hard so when October rolls around they look like a different team, according to the coach.

Allison and Jason Kekacs are two of the swimmers Flanders pointed to as being impressive early on. He also said the seniors have done a great job leading the squad.

“They’re all looking good, but the Kekacs, they’ve been swimming very, very well,” Flanders said before pointing out his upperclassmen. “I put a lot of pressure on my seniors as well. They’ve done a good job keeping the team together.”

Jason Kekacs finished second in the 200-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle on Tuesday. He also was a member of the 400-yard freestyle relay team of Christian Egbert, Drew Samaha and Hunter Jackson. Allison Kekacs picked up a win in the 100 yard butterfly and a second-place finish in the 100 yard backstroke.

Aiken’s success early on is also impressive due to the fact they’ve done the qualifying while having only a few year-round swimmers on the team. Most of the team only swim for two or three months. Kailey Grant and Samaha – two freshmen– and the Kekacs are the only swimmers who swim the entire year.

“A lot of teams have year round swimmers to accomplish things like we have,” Flanders said. “For us to do so well is a credit to them, and it’s great for our program.

South Aiken also has some early representatives on their way to the state championship meet after only a few regular season meets.

“It feels good to start out the season like that, head coach Kim Brinson said. “It gives the kids some confidence to keep working hard. I think we will get several more qualified in the upcoming meets.”

Juniors Megan Allison, Naomi Buck and sophomore Audrey Robinson are some of the standouts for the Aiken team. The trio teamed up with Haley Mazzell to take first place in the women’s 200-yard Medley Relay. Robinson also picked up wins in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard freestyle, Megan Allison won the 100-yard backstroke and 50-yard freestyle, and Naomi Buck won the 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard freestyle.

In Tuesday’s meet, River Bluff outscored both South Aiken (113-56) and Aiken (108-61) in the men’s and women’s overall team scores. The Hornets’ men’s team topped South Aiken 93-75, and the T-Breds women’s team won 99.5-68.5 against Aiken.

Prior to Tuesday’s meet, the teams found success in the Yellow Jacket Invitational. That event, held Saturday included 580 swimmers and 19 team from South Carolina and Georgia.

The South Aiken girls’ team finished third, and the boys’ team finished 11th. The Aiken High boys team finished fifth and the girls team finished sixth.

The Hornets girls’ achievements included finishing fourth in the 400 yard Freestyle. Grant finished seventh in the 200-yard Freestyle and fifth in the 500-yard Freestyle, and Allison Kekacs finishing second in the 100 Backstroke.

The South Aiken girls team had several swimmers and relay teams finish in the top three positions. Allison was first in the 50-yard Freestyle and first in the 100 Backstroke. Naomi Buck was second in both the 200-yard freestyle and the 100 yard breaststroke and Audrey Robinson was first in both the 200 Individual Medley and the 100-yard freestyle. The South Aiken girls 200 medley relay team finished second and the 200 Freestyle relay team finished fourth. In the boys competition, Ryan Blane finished fifth in the 50-yard freestyle and Michael Robinson finished eighth in the 100-yard backstroke to score points for the team.

Eric Russell covers sports for the Aiken Standard. Follow him on twitter @EricJ_Russell.

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