Jefferson showed up on the podium in droves at the state recreation swimming meet.
In 74 events, the Sea Dragons recorded 10 individual or relay titles with three state records broken at the July 12-13 event in Tifton. The program also had 64 placers finish in the top eight or reach the finals.
Jefferson’s girls’ team finished second to Douglas County (no final point totals were available) as the summer swimming season wrapped up.
“Everyone worked so hard and raced hard,” coach Tess Nunnally said. “They swam with heart for themselves and for Jefferson.”
In the competition for the girls’ state team title, Douglas County beat Jefferson based on the sheer numbers the team had. The suburban Atlanta program doubled the number of girls’ state qualifiers the Sea Dragons had in Tifton.
“Our district, District 7 is the strongest district in the state with Oconee, Habersham and Jefferson,” Nunnally explained. “Ultimately, we knock a lot of each other’s quality swimmers out vying for one of the top 3 spots in events to move onto state. Therefore, our three teams usually take 40-50 swimmers each down to state. Well this year, Douglas owns their district and brought over 110 swimmers to state. Last year, our girls were a half point from winning state. This year, we were second place once again to Douglas but by far more points due to the numbers they brought.”
“I am still proud of our girls bringing home second place overall in the state,” Nunnally said. “We definitely have the quality to win state but not the quantity.”
Jefferson did boast a host of state title winners, nonetheless.
Ansley Nunnally (12U girls) won three individual state titles (50-yard butterfly, 50-yard backstroke and 100-yard individual medley) and was part of two record-setting relay championship teams. Nunnally also set a state record in the 50-yard butterfly with a time of 28.4. She swam times of 30.97 and 1:05.95, respectively, in the backstroke and individual medley.
Kate Dunagan (12U girls) won a pair of state titles (50-yard freestyle, 27.2; 100-yard freestyle, 58.2) and helped deliver record times for two championship-winning relay teams.
The record-setting relay championships came from Nunnally, Dunagan, Aubree-Clare Flores and Ximena Young in the 200-yard medley relay (2:06.86) and 200-yard freestyle relay (1:51.53). The medley record was 19 years old while the freestyle record was 26 years old. The Jefferson relay team bettered the state freestyle relay mark by over two seconds.
Others bringing home titles were Gabby Lee (10U girls’ 25-yard backstroke, 17.3), Justin Duke (12U boys’ 50-yard backstroke, 33.2) and Justin Kurgan (12U boys’ 50-yard breaststroke, 39.09).
“Our boys were also amazing at state this year,” Nunnally said. “We had two boy champions which is amazing.”
In addition to 10 state champions, Jefferson produced nine state runners-up. Those swimmers were:
•Duke (12U boys) — 100-yard freestyle, 1:04.67.
•Emery Whetstone, Spencer Cain, Blakely Hawk and Jillian Mundy (8U girls) — 100-yard medley relay, 1:31.52; 100-yard freestyle relay, 1:20.23.
•William Allen, Corbin Hobbs, Will Nunally and Thomas James (10U boys) — 100-yard medley relay, 1:15.11.
•Justin Duke, Justin Kurgan, Cayden Sheridan and Eben Mundy (12U boys) — 200-yard medley relay, 2:22.53.
•Gracie Holman, Makaylee Cain, Grace Richardson and Katy J. Beller (14U girls) — 200-yard medley relay, 2:13.44; 200-yard freestyle relay, 2:01.62.
•Parker Newell (8U boys) — 100-yard individual medley, 1:55.65.
•Aubree-Clare Flores (12U girls) — 50-yard backstroke, 32.76.
Newell barely missed a state title in his first-ever state meet, finishing in second by less than six tenths of a second
Those finishing third were:
•Haylee Cain (10U girls) — 50-yard freestyle, 32.55.
•English Wyatt (8U boys) — 25-yard breaststroke, 23.95.
•Dunagan (12U girls) — 100-yard individual medley, 1:12.51.
•Mundy (8U girls) — 25-yard butterfly, 20.77.
•Lee, Sofia Burns, Kerrigan Vaughn and Haylee Cain (10U girls) — 100-yard freestyle relay, 1:02.25.
•Sheridan, Munday, Kurgan and Duke (12U boys) — 200-yard freestyle relay, 2:05.5.
Jefferson also had nine fourth-place finishers, six fifth-place finishers, nine sixth-place finishers, seven seventh-place finishers and eight eighth-place finishers.
Nunnally said 8U girls’ swimmers Hawk (sixth, 25-yard breaststroke, 25.11) and Leila Yang (fourth, 25-yard backstroke, 22.05) “were also amazing to watch at their first state meet,” as the two reached the finals of their individual events.
Nunnally pointed to the long-term objectives of the program following its efforts at this year’s state meet.
“Our goal for the future is to work on getting more swimmers and talent in our older age groups and more male swimmers,” Nunnally said. “Hopefully, soon, we will have a facility to house more swimmers where we don’t have to turn swimmers away because we can’t accommodate them in our current facility and with our current staff limitations.”