Back for seconds: GPAC swimmers feast on best times at Gravy Bowl

Gregory Johnson

Back for seconds: GPAC swimmers feast on best times at Gravy Bowl

               The combination of it being a home meet mixed with the excitement of a preliminary/finals meet format proved to be the catalyst for an impressive team performance of the 125 GPAC swimmers that competed in the 2021 Gravy Bowl Invitational swim meet held at University of West Florida’s aquatic center November 19-21.

               Led by an octet of swimmers who won their age group’s high point award, several new team records and a slew of new Southeastern qualifying times, the GPAC team handedly won the meet, which hosted 15 other teams from around the region and nearly 500 swimemrs.

               “It was great to be able to return to a prelims/finals format for the 11-and-over swimmers,” said GPAC head coach Greg Johnson. “Since our return to competition after the shutdown, we haven’t been able to really do a prelims/finals meet. So having Gravy Bowl this year is really special, and I think the swimmers felt that.”

               GPAC had eight swimmers across all five age groups that placed well enough in their events to win the high point award. Seven-year-old Addison Adams, the youngest GPAC points champion, won her first three events of the meet, and went on to place in the top-five in all nine of her individual events over the weekend. Adams swam eight new personal best times and nabbed a new 10-and-under ‘B’ standard in the 50-yd backstroke.

               The team’s dynamic duo of Marcela Dos Santos and Lane Robinson, 9, were back together to challenge the 9-10 age group for the points title, and both emerged again as the winners. Marcela won six of her 10 individual events and was second in three others. She posted nine new personal best times, including two new Southeastern Swimming (SES) championship cuts in the 50-yd backstroke and 100-yd breaststroke. She also set a new ‘AA’ time in the 100-yd butterfly and a new ‘A’ time in the 100-yd back.

               Robinson came through with three victories of his own, winning the two longest events contested in the age group—200-yd individual medley and 500-yd freestyle—which were new personal best times. Lane also won the 100-yd backstroke and his versatility helped him to second place in six other events. He set three new ‘AA’ times and a new ‘A’ time.

               Aidan Hall and training partner Noah Jacobs, both 12, tied for the high-points win in the 11-12 age group. Hall won six individual events and set new life-best times in all eight of his swims over the weekend. Aidan set a new team record in the 50-yd breaststroke on the first day of the meet, bettering his previous mark set last month by almost a second.

               Jacobs used a full slate of events along with fast swims to tally the points needed to tie Hall and be named co-champion in the points totals. Noah won the 200-yd breaststroke and pulled in for second place in six other events. He set a new SES cut in the 100-yd IM and swam two new ‘AA’ times and four new ‘A’ times.

               Taylor Clements, 13, won five individual events and won silver in two others on her way to the high-point award for the 13-14 girls. Taylor also swam all personal best times in her events, which included rattling the team record in the 100-yd breaststroke and earning her first-ever Futures championship qualifying time and new ‘AAAA’ time with a time of one minute, 5.90 seconds. Taylor also posted two new 13-14 SES cuts and two new ‘AAA’ and ‘AA’ times.

               In another tight points race, teammates Max Little, 14, and Ian Malone, 13, traded wins in different events to pull within three points of each other, and Max came out ahead at the end of the meet, winning the age group. Max swam two personal best times and set a new ‘AA’ time in his 100-yd buuterfly.

               Ian, although just three points shy of the high-point win, came out of the meet with five individual wins, five new personal best times, two new ‘AAAA’ times and two new ‘AAA’ times. Ian also erased two freestyle team records from 30 years ago. He now owns the 50, 100 and 200-yd freestyle team records in his age group.

               In the 15-and-over age group, GPAC’s Logan Robinson, 15, used a pair of golds, a pair of silvers and a pair of bronzes to edge out the competition by another three-point margin. Logan swept both individual medley races and utilized his versatility to place second and third in a variety of events. Logan set a new SES cut and ‘AAA’ time in the 50-yd freestyle and he posted three other new ‘AAA’ times in his 400 IM, 100 and 200 fly.

               “The prelims/finals format is familiar to some of our swimmers who have been on the team longer, or are at a high level with their swimming,” said coach Nathan Smith. “Many of our swimmers this weekend had never prelims/finals experience before. We had a lot swimmers make the jump from novice to veteran over the weekend.”

               For the 11-and-older swimmers at the meet, all the swimmers compete in their events in the morning, and out of those races, the top 20 swimmers come back at night to contest the events again. Many of the GPAC swimmers had as many as six individual events to race each day.

               Getting psyched up to race fast at finals allowed these other swimmers to win individual events at the meet: Jillian Beardsley, 14, Jackson O’Neill, 12, Hudson Trammell, 17, Coulson Voeltz, 14, and Avery Witte, 14.

               Nearly three out of every four races over the weekend was a personal best time for the GPAC swimmers and 31% of the team swam all life-best times. These swimmers posted life-best times in all their individual events: Isaac Adams, 13, Thomas Andrews, 11, Lauren Armstrong, 14, Ben Ashford, 14, Addison Chambers, 13, Carson Cox, 12, Noah Day, 16, Sam Deao, 14, Graeson Garcia, 11, Isabelle Garcia, 13, Landon Garcia, 13, Max Harrison, 10, Brayden Heath, 11, Davis Hobbs, 13, Kouper Kraus, 14, Addison Lee, 14, Troy Lee, 14, Eme Mason, 8, Linden Mason, 13, Emma McLaughlin, 10, Ellie Nissim, 13, Jackson O’Neill, Payton Palmer, 11, Naomi Parker, 13, Emmett Perez, 10, George Purdy, 13, Olivia Quale, 13, Henry Ramos, 9, Rowan Schwartz, 11, Lanie Scott, 12, Caroline Smith, 13, Milo Soileau, 10, AJ Stuckey, 14, Liza Tapia, 11, Audrey Turner, 12, Gigi Villatoro, 13, Grace Walen, 11, Lily Walker, 13, Jordana Wright, 10, and Chris Zuniga, 12.

                GPAC expanded its SES championship team after the meet, with 26 swimmers posting 42 new cuts for the meet that will be held in Huntsville in February. Swimmers who set new SES cuts at the meet were Jillian Beardsley, Lila Brock, 13, Taylor Clements, Marcela Dos Santos, Graeson Garcia, Landon Garcia, Aidan Hall, Jack Hebert, 15, Braedan Jacobs, 15, Noah Jacobs, Kouper Kraus, 14, Jackson O’Neill, Axel Phillips, Logan Robinson, Cain Scoggins, Caroline Smith, Hudson Trammell, Audrey Turner, Jameson Walker, 16, Lily Walker, Avery Witte, 14, and Jordana Wright.

               In addition to these, three swimmers earned their first-ever championship qualifying times. Lauren Armstrong earned her first championship cut in the 200-yd butterfly, Noah Day in the 100 free and 100 fly, and Emmet Perez, 10, in the 50 breaststroke.

               Coulson Voeltz, 14, was the stand-out new cut achiever for the meet, as he posted five new meet qualifying swims for his first-ever SES championship coming up in a couple months.

               Ten GPAC 14-and-unders posted new Age Group Sectional championship qualifying times over the weekend. The sectional championships see teams from all across the Southeast in mid-March. Although the GPAC team won’t compete at that meet this season, these swimmers set qualifying times: Jillian Beardsley, Taylor Clements, Marcela Dos Santos, Graeson Garcia, Noah Jacobs, Jackson O’Neill, Lane Robinson, Cain Scoggins, Caroline Smith and Audrey Turner.

               In addition to these achievements, many new motivational times were recorded by many different swimmers on the team:

B:           Addison Adams, JD Ball, Jaysa Ciccone, Sam Deao, Isla Fox, Callie Harris, Drew Henry, Davis Hobbs, Addison Lee, Troy Lee, Nicholas Lypko, Maddox McKian, Emma McLaughlin, Emmet Perez, Arthur Phillips, Olivia Quale, Abby Robinson, Rowan Schwartz, AJ Stuckey, Hannah Su, Stella Vail, Grace Walen, Lizzy Wall, Rigby Whiteley, Ryder Whiteley, Chris Zuniga

BB:         Lauren Armstrong, Ben Ashford, Graeson Garcia, Isabelle Garcia, Landon Garcia, Callie Harris, Josephine Harris, Drew Henry, Davis Hobbs, Kouper Kraus, Jordan LaBryer, Addison Lee, Bailee Luciano, David McCright, Maddox McKian, Belle McNally, Kiley Menser, Jennifer Mims, Lexi Montgomery, Ward O’Brien, Jackson O’Neill, Claire Perez, Emmett Perez, Axel Phillips, Olivia Quale, Abby Robinson, Caroline Smith, AJ Stuckey, Lex Vaughn, Jameson Walker, Lily Walker

A:           Lauren Armstrong, Ben Ashford, Noah Day, Marcela Dos Santos, Graeson Garcia, Landon Garcia, Aidan Hall, Josephine Harris, Jack Hebert, Kevin Herr, Noah Jacobs, Kouper Kraus, Kaylee Loper, David McCright, Jackson O’Neill, Lane Robinson, Cain Scoggins, Brianna Smith, Caroline Smith, Shelby Smith, Lily Stockton, Audrey Turner, Lex Vaughn, Coulson Voeltz, Jameson Walker, Lily Walker, Avery Witte, Jordana Wright

AA:         Jillian Beardsley, Lila Brock, Taylor Clements, Noah Day, Marcela Dos Santos, Jack Hebert, Braedan Jacobs, Noah Jacobs, Max Little, Korbin Menser, Emma O’Neill, Lane Robinson, Caroline Smith, Hudson Trammell, Audrey Turner, Coulson Voeltz, Jameson Walker

AAA:      Taylor Clements, Aidan Hall, Braedan Jacobs, Ian Malone, Logan Robinson, Hudson Trammell

AAAA:    Taylor Clements, Aidan Hall, Ian Malone

               The team will take a few days off for the Thanksgiving holiday and come back to prepare for another meet—this time in Baton Rouge, LA. The team will get back to training during the rest of the month of December and then look to swim fast in January and February.