For the record: Relay team sets new fastest time at state meet


Eliza H. (8), Lillian Altman (10), Kalia Clary (11), Ava Auter (10) and Nicole R. (8) pose in front of the state championship banner with Allison Clark (11), Layla Auter (12), and Katelyn Owl (12) behind it. (Kyle Berry)

Caroline Scott, Journalism 1 reporter

Seniors Layla Auter and Katelyn Owl, junior Kalia Clary and eighth-grader Nicole R. set a school record for the girls’ 200 free relay of 1:44.23, demolishing the previous time of 1:44.7. The time landed them in 12th place at the state meet Nov. 16 at the Sailfish Aquatic Center in Stuart. 

The relay team broke the former best time twice, first by a tenth of a second in the preliminary stage and again in the main event. Nicole said she couldn’t believe the results.

“I got so excited I started crying a little,” she said. “This whole season, we dropped eight seconds in total from the time we had going in this season, so it was really crazy. We had been working all season and putting in a lot of effort, and we felt really excited and a lot of relief.”

She said psyching herself up before the race helped her swim faster.

“I was just kind of pumping myself up, thinking positive things,” she said. “I was going in like, ‘You can do this. I got this. Let’s go in.’ ”

Auter said the support of her teammates prepared her. 

“Up on the block, I felt [ready], just knowing I have [six years] of experience behind me, and a really, really close-knit team of the six girls that were there that day cheering behind me, just feeling really excited to get in the water and leave it there,” Auter said. “I always try to get into an aggressive mindset, especially swimming sprints and getting into a zone, feeling ready to swim and tear the water up and go as fast as I possibly can.”

According to Auter, not seeing her opponents near the pool beforehand calmed her nerves. COVID-19 protocol prohibited spectators on the deck.

“Not getting to watch any races was a bummer,” she said. “But at the same time, it also prevents you from watching all the faster people, which can be a good thing because not seeing your competition can make you feel a little better. It’s the fastest kids in the state, lots of super-duper talented kids, but at the same time, I was feeling really confident in our work. We had been practicing very hard this whole season, and knowing that there’s six years of swimming behind me and technique to push us through made me more confident than nervous.” 

Auter said practicing in the pool for the two days they were there prior to the meet allowed her to gain familiarity. 

“One thing that I was really proud of was my turns and streamline off the walls for the fifty,” she said. I definitely got a lot more distance under the water with my streamlines than I normally do, which has definitely made a big impact on my sprinting. [I was] just giving it everything I had, especially in the final race. I knew that was the best I had, and I was happy with my time. I was really excited in the water to just kick it.”

Nicole said she felt a sense of finality at the end of her race. 

“I was really anxious. I immediately looked at the scoreboard to see what time I got, and I was really excited to jump out and see what everyone else was swimming. I had just finished my fifty and I was like, ‘OK, this is it. That was my chance.’ ”

According to Auter, it was difficult to find the results.

“Because we were in the lanes that were the farthest away from the scoreboard, it was a little hard to see the times clearly,” she said. “We couldn’t even really see our splits from the big scoreboard, even though it’s huge.”

Auter achieved a new personal record in her final event with the school, which she said left her feeling accomplished and nostalgic.  

“Because it was my last swim I’ll ever have for West Shore, it was a little bittersweet. I was feeling really confident in my swim, but at the same time feeling kind of sad that it’s all come to a close. I wouldn’t have ended it any other way.”

Editor’s note: Brevard Public Schools policy prohibits the publication of middle-schoolers’ last names on district-sponsored websites.