For the first time in three years, El Campo will have representation at the state swim meet.
El Campo Ricebird senior Gage Garner had one of the fastest swims in the 100-yard breaststroke at the Region 7 meet over the weekend at Josh Davis Natatorium in San Antonio earning a chance to compete at state.
“Gage got very close to going to state last year,” Ricebirds swim coach Kelly Garner said. “I think getting so close last year made him understand what it takes to get there and made him even more determined this year. He trained hard and achieved his goal. I could not be more proud of him.”
Garner in his two individual events, the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard breaststroke had top-three finishes.
The El Campo senior 59.94-second swim in the 100-yard was the second-fastest in Region 7, but enough to make it to state. Garner dropped nearly one second from his prelim time. In the 50-yard freestyle Garner had a time of 22.23, finishing in third place.
New COVID-19 rules may have robbed Garner from competing in a second event at state. This year only the regional champion in each event was guaranteed a spot at state and then the next eight fastest times across all the regions. Before COVID-19, the two top swimmers in each event earned a spot along with the next eight fastest times.
El Campo competed in 19 events and they had a swimmer finish 13th or higher in each event. Outside of Garner’s individual events, El Campo had four other top-five finishes.
In the boys 200-yard medley relay, Kaden Beal, Gage Garner, Zane Garner and Carson Whittington finished in fifth place with a time of 1:47.70. Holly Foegelle took home fifth in the 1-meter dive with 207.25 points.
In the girls 200-yard freestyle relay, Kendall Beal, Riley Wallis, Juliann Little and Rachel Evans with a time of 1:50.28 came in fourth place.
The final top finish came from the boys 200-yard freestyle relay of Carson Whittington, Dylan Cook, Zane Garner and Gage Garner, who came in fifth place with a time of 1:34.41.
The Ladybirds came in fourth place out of 26 schools with 181 points. The Ricebirds swim team finished in seventh place out of 22 schools with 158 points.
“The majority of the schools swimming in our region are 5A schools. I think El Campo has shown that we can compete, and I have repeatedly told the kids that they deserve to be there,” Garner said. “They worked hard this year, but I think if we want to consistently move to the next level, we’re going to have to work even harder.”
The state meet will be in San Antonio on Feb 26-27.