PROVO — When Amelia Draney touched the wall to finish the 500-yard freestyle during the second day of the 3A state swim meet at BYU on Saturday morning, the near-capacity crowd erupted.
With a time of 4:59.38, the Desert Hills junior lapped every other swimmer in the pool en route to breaking her own 3A record by over three seconds, which she set almost exactly a year ago.
“I just was looking at the clock and saw I was under five minutes and I thought, ‘just keep going. Hold on as long as you can,’” said Draney, who was named the 3A female swimmer of the year by the Utah Swim Coaches Association.
“I’ve just learned to pace myself,” Draney said when asked about her 34-second victory. “Just how everyone says, you’ve got to be better than you were yesterday. That’s what I’m out there doing.”
The state record for the 500 free is 4:56.97, a number the Southern Utah swimmer said is imprinted in her mind.
“It will be there next year. I’m working for it,” she said.
Draney was also a crucial piece in Desert Hills' victory in the 400-yard freestyle relay as she anchored the 3:48.22 victory swim. The rest of the relay team included junior Tessa Trimble, junior Madison Wawrzyniak and sophomore Zoe Smith.
Mitchell Hutchings, the 3A male swimmer of the year, also came from the southern end of the state, representing Pine View on the podium with his first-place finish in the boys 500 free.
“Me and my coach have been working on trying to control the adrenaline through the race,” said the junior, who finished with a time of 4:51.43. “He told me after the 300 mark to build it up and let it loose, and that’s exactly what I did.”
Tressa Trimble, a Desert Hills junior, and Brandon Johnson, a Tooele senior, started off the final day of competition with victories in the 100-yard butterfly. The former did so with a time of 1:00.67 and the latter finished in 53.80 seconds.
The 100 free champions were McKenzie Barber, a senior from Snow Canyon, and Bryce Mounteer, a senior from Wasatch.
“I haven’t been dropping any time this whole year in my 100 free,” Barber, who shaved nearly half a second for a time of 54.06 seconds, said. “It was really discouraging for a while, but it was nice to finally do it at state.”
In addition to the 100 free, which Mounteer won with a time of 49.57, the sprinter added to the Wasatch team score with legs in the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 400-yard freestyle relay.
“We made some changes last week and I told the boys, ‘I think we can win all three relays,’” said Wasatch coach Steve Marsing, referring also to the medley relay that took place on Friday. “We set all school records in all three relays and took first in all three relays.”
The Wasps’ 400 free relay time was 3:20.00 and included David Finley, Mounteer, Tolbert and Hunter Hallows.
The 200 free relay team was made up of seniors Sam England, Mounteer, Hunter Tolbert and Brady Winward. They finished in 1:29.97, just 0.48 seconds off the 3A record.
The Wasatch girls 200 free relay team — made up of sophomore Phebe James, senior Rachel Low, junior Megan Mounteer and junior Anna Dahl — also won. They did so with a time of 1:41.39 and were just 0.43 seconds shy of the 3A record.
“We were so close (to the 3A records), but I couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Marsing, who was named the 3A boys coach of the year. His school swept the team competitions. It was the first title ever for the Wasatch girls and the first one ever for one of Marsing's teams.
“I chased Brighton for years. With Russ Lauber at the helm, they won 21 straight,” he said. “I told the girls they had to come to swim, and they did. They stepped up when they needed to.”
The Wasatch girls totaled 317 points, edging second-place Judge, which scored 263 points. Judge coach Matt Finnigan was named the 3A girls coach of the year.
The Wasatch boys finished with 379 points while Park City finished in second with 244 points.
“We’ve got a challenge moving up into 4A, but we’ll just rise to the occasion,” Marsing added. “This is a nice way to leave 3A.”
Other Wasatch individual champions included Finley, who won the 100-yard backstroke title with a time of 54.92, and Dahl, who took first in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:06.54.
“I’ve been telling (Dahl) all year she can go 1:06. She went 1:06 today, and she’s just a junior,” Marsing said.
Park City senior Zach Carfi won the boys 100 breast with a time of 1:00.74 and Park City sophomore Natalie McDonald won the 100 back with a time of 1:00.21.
Sarah Thomas is a graduate of the University of Utah and has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org