VISAA State Swimming & Diving Championships Recap!

The Hargrave Swimming & Diving team had the opportunity to compete in the VISAA State Swimming & Diving Championships at Liberty University, check out how it went according to our Head Coach, Amanda Weishaar!

There are 530 swimmers, and nearly 60 divers competing to be the best at the VISAA (Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association) State Championships. To qualify for this event, every swimmer must have met the qualifying time for their event. Every diver must have completed 11 different dives with a minimum score rating of 2.5 from each of 3 judges. We had 5 swimmers and 4 divers competing against 53 other teams over the next 2 days!

We left HMA to a fanfare of cheers and support from the remaining HMA swimmer’s on Thursday at 4:30 pm. We briefly checked into our hotel and then we headed to the Liberty Natatorium (a phenomenal pool built in 2017 that was amazing for our Championships) for warm ups. After checking out the facilities and familiarizing ourselves with the schedule, we headed for food. Another Chipotle stop!

Early to bed and with as much rest as possible, we had a late breakfast and drove our way through the rain back to the pool Friday morning. Today we had 3 individual events during the prelims. (As a Championship meet the prelims were being held in the morning and then the top 16 came back for the finals. Only those swimming in the finals can score points. The team with the most points wins States! Also the top 8 receive medals).

Sebastian Medina, ’23 (Danville, VA) first event was the 50 Freestyle. Sebastian was seeded 40th with a time of :23.88 seconds.

Sebastian was seconds away from getting onto the block when his goggles snapped in half!! (Goggles have been the biggest pain of the team this season!). Kindly a swimmer in heat 4 in the lane next to him (Sebastian was in heat 2) loaned him his pair to compete!

Sebastian was able to drop 0.40 seconds and finished the event 33rd overall!

Then came the 50 Freestyle Bonus event. To qualify for the 50 Bonus you must swim faster then :26.14 seconds but slower than :24.14 seconds (otherwise you would swim in the 50 Freestyle event). The 50 Bonus event allows swimmer’s the opportunity to qualify and swim in an individual event outside of a relay. Anyone swimming the 50 Bonus cannot score any points. There are no finals for this event.

Now for the fun part!!

We have 3 hotel rooms and 9 HMA participants. The boys can choose their roommates and the sleeping arrangements! Sebastian Medina, Aiden Dykstra, and John Wall shared a room. The argument was who was sleeping on the floor with only 2 beds! As Seniors Sebastian and Aiden claimed the bed for the first night (Thursday). The arrangement for the second night was whoever, out of John and Aiden, swam the fastest in the 50 Bonus would get the bed the second night!

Aiden Dykstra, ’23 (Ten Sleep, WY) had a seed time of :25.19 

John Wall, ’24 (Mount Juliet, TN) had a seed time of :25.75

So John went first! John came in 1st for his heat with a time of :25.19! Yes. The exact same time as Aiden’s seed time!!

So, now we had to wait 2 minutes for Aiden’s event to see who was going to sleep on the floor. Aiden swam it in :25.16!! (A drop of 0.03 seconds!) So Aiden gets the bed the 2nd night after all!

Sebastian Medina now had his 2nd individual event – 100 Butterfly. Sebastian was seeded 16th with a time of :55.83.

Sebastian had a great event and after an agonizing 45 minute wait, we found out he qualified for the finals by coming in 14th overall with a time of :55.47 (a drop of .036 seconds!) We were going to be coming back for the finals this evening!

Sebastian was scheduled to swim at 8:48 pm. As we entered the building we saw the 50 Freestyle awards being handed out. That meant that Sebastian had 2 heats racing and then him and it was only 8:03 pm. So, very ahead in terms of time! He quickly got changed and then could not find his cap and goggles! The first heat of the girls was swimming. The equipment store had closed and he was swimming in less than 5 minutes!!

As no-one else was swimming equipment was not readily available! Luckily I had a spare cap and luckily Bryce Adkins brought his bag so we had goggles! Sebastian had enough time to get behind the blocks as the girls final started! 2 minutes later he started his race!

Sebastian was seeded 14th with a time of :55.47 and the time was 8:09 pm! With no warm up time; the no cap and/or goggles saga; and with the event being 40 minutes early, Sebastian had no time to mentally and/or physically prepare for this final.

Sebastian did amazing though by finishing in :55.48 seconds (just 0.01 seconds slower than earlier in the day but with all the issues he had encountered!) and the 15th fastest 100 Butterfly swimmer in the VISAA league! We are all super proud of him and all that he accomplished!

Now the boys have the time to rest and focus on tomorrow’s events which everyone will compete in – 200 Freestyle Relay (at 10:53 am) and the 400 Freestyle Relay (at 12:08 pm); followed by the Men’s diving in the afternoon.

It was cold but sunny and the final drive to the pool was pretty and relaxing. The guys were excited because all of them were competing and many of them knew their parents would be attending today’s events.

The swimming was again happening in the morning and then the divers would compete in the afternoon. 

First up – 200 Freestyle Relay. This is the first time I have had this relay in the 4 seasons I have been with HMA. I was excited to see how they would do! 

The boys were seeded in 33rd place with a time of 1:41.06

They absolutely crushed it!

Junior Verwest, ’26 (Fort Myers, FL) opened up as the first swimmer. He dropped time from a :26.24 to a :25.95 (0.29 seconds) which is under this year’s required 50 Bonus Freestyle time so Junior is in a great position to swim an individual event next year! Plus he met his season goal of being under the qualifying time!

Aiden Dykstra, ’23 (Ten Sleep, WY) also dropped from yesterday’s :25.16 to :24.42 (0.74 seconds!)

John Wall, ’24 (Mount Juliet, TN) again dropped time from yesterday’s :25.19 to :24.73 (0.46 seconds!)

And our anchor Sebastian Medina, ’23 (Danville, VA) again dropped time from yesterday’s :23.48 to :23.15 (0.33 seconds!). Also Sebastian entered the water in 4th or 5th place but managed to get ahead enough to allow our team to come in 1st for their heat!

So, 1st in their heat; everyone dropped time; total time drop was 2.81 seconds; and they finished 22nd overall!

Everyone was pumped! The atmosphere was electrifying! The boys were physically shaking from the adrenaline and they complained of being so cold from their efforts. It was phenomenal to watch and it set the day off perfectly!

Final event – 400 Freestyle Relay.

This was the final event of the morning and the boys were seeded at 24th with a time of 3:49.71

The boys left the bleachers early and I gave them 10-15 minutes of their own time as I knew they were processing that this was the last time that they would swim together. These 4 particular boys have swam almost exclusively together for the past 2 years at both practices at HMA and competing at States with each other in the same relay. This was going to be the end of an era.

First off the blocks was John Wall, ’24 (Mount Juliet, TN) who dropped time from his personal best this year from a :56.39 to a :56.25 (0.14 seconds!)

Bryce Adkins, ’23 (Gretna, VA) also dropped time from a :59.77 to a :59.29 (0.48 seconds!)

Aiden Dykstra, ’23 (Ten Sleep, WY) was on fire and he dropped from a 1:01.02 to an amazing :58.24! (2.78 seconds!) and he met his season goal of under 1 minute!

Sebastian Medina, ’23 (Danville, VA) again was the final anchor in the final relay of this boys HMA swimming career. Sebastian also dropped time from a :52.97 to a :52.34 (0.63 seconds!)

The boys dropped a total of 3.59 seconds and finished 20th overall!

As the next heat started the boys all looked at each other and you could see the enormity of this occasion on their faces.  From high energy, brotherhood, and comradery to the final realization that this was it. Their time of swimming together had officially ended. Bryce was a class act. He went to each of his teammates, looked them in the eye, gave each of them a handshake, and said “it’s been a real pleasure swimming with you. I wish you all the best”. Then the hugs came and this coach had to leave for fear of embarrassing them with all of her tears!!

This coach was extremely proud of each of these 5 swimmers and what they accomplished together as a team. They have shown true grit, determination, support, encouragement, motivation, understanding, knowledge, and more throughout every water and weight room session this past season. They have shown that with the right attitude and hard work that it can pay off at the big stage. I could not have asked for a better set of State swimmers this year!