Nation Ford High School swimmers shattered records and fulfilled dreams by capturing the second-year school's first South Carolina championship.
"We broke six state records!" a nearly breathless Nation Ford Swim coach Melissa Halstensgard said after her team beat top-seeded Mauldin by 33 points Saturday, Oct. 11, at the Rock Hill Aquatics Center.
"I can't tell you how strong the swimmers are and we will be celebrating a little tonight."
For the second time in two weeks, the Rock Hill Aquatics Center was full of swimmers and parents from the Fort Mill area as both the Nation Ford and Fort Mill high school teams competed for the state 4A title. Two weeks earlier, the center hosted the regional tournament.
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Within the first hour, the boys from Nation Ford had competed in four events and had broken three state records.
Jordan Berry broke two state records in the 200 individual medley (1:50.94) and the 100 fly (49.79).
Other Falcons who broke state records are Justin Ashcraft in the 200 freestyle (1:41.64) and 500 freestyle (4:33.37) and the 200 medley relay of Ashcraft, Lucas Hawes, Jordan Berry and Evan Ashcraft that turned in a time of 1:35.04.
"This has been an amazing season and the momentum just kept going," Nation Ford's assistant coach Adam Rainey said. "I can't even begin to describe how proud I am of both the boys and girls teams."
For the girls, senior Anna Kimbrell had a good finish for her high school career.
"We are ready to swim and I want to medal," she said before the meet.
Kimbrell finished fourth in the 50 freestyle, 12th in the 100 breaststroke and swam in the 200 medley relay that finished fourth and the 400 freestyle relay. The Lady Falcons finished a strong fifth overall.
The swimmers' parents were out in force to lend moral support, some wearing T-shirts that said "Pain is temporary, Pride is forever." Sue and Gene Ashcraft were there to cheer on their sons Justin and Evan and daughter Alexa, who moved up two spots during the competition.
"Neither of us were swimmers, but somehow we were blessed with three phenomenal swimmers," Gene Ashcraft said. "All three have been swimming since they were young and it has not only encouraged discipline in their lives, but also has taught them how to deal with both challenges and success in sports and academics."
"This is just unbelievable," Sue Ashcraft said. "Some of us parents have sat in the bleachers cheering together for the past six years."
Fort Mill High School placed ninth in both boys and girls overall team scoring.
"We had outstanding swims by all our state swimmers" Fort Mil head coach Lindsey Hawkins said. "We are a growing team and had some of our best times. We were thrilled to see both the boys and the girls place in the top 10."
Holly Hirsch won a silver medal in the girls 100 backstroke and dropped 2.91 seconds off her best time to finish at 59.09. Jenni Russel also brought home a silver medal for Fort Mill, in the 100 breaststroke Her time was 1:07.49 - 3.09 seconds faster than her previous best.