HANNIBAL, Mo. - The RLAY Otters ended their regular season with a bang this past weekend at the Tom and Becky Swim Meet in Hannibal, Mo. Katie Cully of Marion made the Otters' biggest splash, breaking five pool records in the 8-under girls division and leading the team to its first championship finish of the regular season.
The Otters' 22 swimmers who competed took first place in the small team division - teams with 30 swimmers or less - and seventh out of 14 teams in attendance. Each of the overall top six teams consisted of 90-100 swimmers.
Cully, who just turned 9 years old, came in first in all but one of her seven events, set new pool records in all but two and met or exceeded the state qualifying time in the four events available to her age group at the state tournament. Her record-breaking performances came in the 100 meter Individual Medley (1:21.21), 25m freestyle (13.74), 50m backstroke (37.18), 50 free (30.50) and 100 free, in which she shattered the old record by more than six seconds with a time of 1:08.76.
"She's a champion," said Laura Johnston, head coach of the Rend Lake Aquatic Youth Otters. "That time [100 free], I would say, will stand for a very long time."
This was the final meet of their regular season. Overall, the 22 swimmers set area qualifying times in 25 events. Although these times are good enough for state, they don't count just yet. The Otters will have to keep consistent and meet or beat state qualifying times when they swim at their YMCA District Championships, Feb. 27-29, in Centralia. District will begin with distance events on Friday and overall events Saturday. Sunday will feature the top 12 individual finalists. The state championship meet will take place the following weekend in DeKalb where girls will race on Saturday and boys race Sunday.
Johnston said if times stay consistent, all 22 who competed in Hannibal will be going to state. There are a total of 46 swimmers who make up the Otters.
"That's one of our goals," she said of state qualifying marks. "The children really work hard to attain these goals and move on to state. However, our overall goal is to develop swimmers' confidence and improve skills."
In their first year as a team, RLAY took a third place in Paducah; seconds in St. Charles, Mo., and Mt. Vernon, Ind.; and a first in Hannibal, Mo. A second and third were in USA Swimming and a first and second were in YMCA Swimming. The Otters are the local team for YMCA and USA swimming. Ages range from 6-and-under to 18.
"As a brand new team this year, to receive four trophies is amazing," Johnston said. "I never expected to even get one. I've talked to teams who have been in our district for a long time and have yet to do as well as we have in our inaugural season. One coach said they had never won a trophy until two weeks ago. The competition in our district is tough, but the quality of swimming on our team is amazing."
Tom and Becky Meet Hannibal, MO
- Abby Grabowski (DuBois) - 4th 25 free, 4th 25 breast, 5th 50 free
- Mary Jane Laws (Nashville) - 25 free 34.72 (PB)
- Logan Rubin (Salem) - 6th 25 free 25.02 (PB), 6th 25 back 27.68 (PB)
- Katie Cully (Marion) - 1st 100m IM 1:21.21 (PR, AQT), 1st 25 free 13.74 (PR, AQT), 1st 25 fly 15.78 (AQT), 1st 50 back 37.18 (PR), 1st 50 free 30.50 (PR, AQT), 2nd 50 fly 36.67, 1st 100 free 1:08.76 (PR)
- Hannah Heitmeyer (Mt. Vernon) - 5th 25 free 16.50 (AQT), 5th 25 back 19.81 (AQT)
- Grace Foltz (Salem) - 7th 25 breast 22.29 (AQT)
- 100 Medley Relay - 2ND 1:25.54 (AQT) A. Grabowski, Cully, Heitmeyer, Foltz
- 100 Free relay 1:12.72 (AQT) A. Grabowski, Cully, Heitmeyer, Foltz
- Andrew Roberts (Mt. Vernon) - 1st 100IM 1:25.87 (AQT), 2nd 25 free 15.57 (AQT), 6th 25 fly 17.73 (AQT), 2nd 50 free 32.76 (AQT), 3rd 25 back 19.03 (AQT), 2nd 25 breast 21.50 (AQT), 2nd 100 free 1:14.27
- Alyson Grabowski (DuBois) - 7th 100 IM 1:20.52 (AQT), 9th 50 free 31.48 (AQT)
- Isabel Heitmeyer (Mt. Vernon) - 10th 50 free 31.62 (AQT)
- 200 free relay - 5th 2:21.49 (AQT) Reis Rubin (Salem), Alec Holmes (Salem), Quinn Laws (Nashville), Roberts
- Mikaela Montgomery (Salem) - 1st 50 free 26.95 (AQT),1st 50 fly 30.19 (AQT), 3rd 100 back 1:10.39, 2nd 200 free 2:15.37 (AQT), 2nd 100 free 1:00.28 (AQT), 2nd 100 fly 1:09.02
- Cheyenna Rhine (Benton) - 5th 100 back 1:11.02, 4th 100 breast 1:21.62, 4th 50 back 32.44 (AQT), 4th 100 fly 1:12.62
- Jordan Love (Nashville) - 8th 100 back, 8th 100 breast (0.5 shy of AQT in 50 fly, 50 back, 50 breast)
- 200m free relay - 3rd Rhine, Samantha Schneider (Pinckneyville), Montgomery, Kasey King (Harrisburg)
- Aaron Holt (Mt. Vernon) - 2nd 50 free 23.56 (AQT), 2nd 100 fly 57.20 (AQT), 4th 400 IM 4:56.73, 3rd 100 free 52.70, 3rd 100 breast 1:11.22
PB - Personal Best, PR - Pool Record, AQT - Area Qualifying Time