On Friday, June Phang, 10, became the first swimmer from Pickens County to win a state championship. Phang took first in the 25 yard breast-stroke in the 10-and-under category at the state meet in Tifton with a time of 17.30 seconds. She also finished second in the 100 yard individual medley.
The next day, her brother, Terry Phang, 14, became the second state champion from the SeaDragons. Phang took first in the 100 yard individual medley (IM) with a time of 1 minute, 4.28 seconds. He also took second in the 50-yard breast stroke.
Terry’s IM was by far the most exciting race of day - ending in a first place tie, something extremely rare at meets where computer touch timing boards are used that record down to the hundredth of a second.
In the 100 yard IM race, where swimmers use all four competitive strokes, Phang trailed after the first two (butterfly and backstroke), but made up considerable ground on the breast stroke leg and edged out a tie in the closing yards. Both swimmers (and the large crowd) waited anxiously staring at the digital display to see who had won.
Terry said he was under considerable pressure after his sister took a first the day before.
While swimming, Phang could see the other swimmer out of the corner of his eye and knew he was trailing heading into the final length of the pool. He thought the final freestyle down the pool might have been the fastest he has ever swam -- which is saying something as he set a district record with his IM time earlier this season. The Phang’s parents own Ably Asian restaurant in Jasper.
This year marked what was possibly the most successful ever for the local swim team advancing to the state level.
In years past, many of the SeaDragons had been happy to just have advanced out of the district level. This year, several had their eye on high podium spots.
Among other SeaDragons who left with solid medal performances: Gabe Womack, was second in butterfly and third in freestyle in the 10 and unders.
Victor Lane was second in the breast stroke and 7th in IM in the 12 and unders.
Ben Moers was third in butterfly and 8th in the 50 yard freestyle.
Aubrey Ortman took home the most medals with an 8th in breast stroke, 6th in IM and both her freestyle and relay teams took 6th in the 12 and unders.
Jessica Jones took a 7th in breaststroke.
This year, Pickens sent 18 swimmers to the state level, a high number compared to similar sized programs.
SeaDragons state results
7 & 8 year olds
Bella Butzin 13th place 25 yd Breast Stroke & 15th place 50 yd Free
Emery Steinhauer 11th place 25 yd Butterfly & 13th place 50 yd Free
Julia Pfiel 12th place 25 yd Backstroke Backstroke & 12th place 25 yd Free
Macy Mays 16th place 25 yd Backstroke
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Girls Free Relay 10th place
Bella Butzin, Julia Pfiel, Emery Steinhauer, Macy Mays
Girls Medley Relay 8th place Jessica Pfiel, Emery Steinhauer, Bella Butzin, Macy Mays
9 &10 year olds
June Phang State Champion (1st place) 25 yd Breast Stroke & 2nd place in 100 yd IM
Gabe Womack 2nd place 25 yd Butterfly & 3rd place 25 yd Free
11 & 12 year olds
Victor Lane 2nd place 50 yd Breast Stoke & 7th place 100 yd IM
Aubrey Ortman 8th place 50 yd Breast Stroke & 6th place 100 yd IM
Maya Moers 9th place 100 Free and 13th place 50 yd Free
Ellie Pool 13th place 50 yd Butterfly
Ryan Duffy 10th place 50 yd Back Stroke
Girls Medley Relay 6th place Ryan Duffy, Aubrey Ortman, Ellie Pool, Maya Moers
Girls Free Relay 6th place Ryan Duffy, Aubrey Ortman, Ellie Pool, Maya Moers
13& 14 year olds
Terry Phang State Champion (1st place) 100 yd IM & 2nd place 50 yd Breast Stroke
Ben Moers 3rd place 50 yd Butterfly & 8th place 50 yd Free
Jessica Jones 7th place 50 yd Breast Stroke and 12th place 50 yd Butterfly
Marie Blackmar 10th place 50 yd Breast Stroke
Marissa Stone 14th place 50 yd Butterfly
Emily Thayer 12th place 50 yd Free
Nadia Hopkins 11th place 50 yd Butterfly
Girls Medley Relay 11th place Marie Blackmar, Abby Hopkins, Madeline Pool, Abigail Womack
GirlsFree Relay 12th place Marie Blackmar, Abby Hopkins, Madeline Pool, Abigail Womack
15-18 year olds
Girls Medley Relay 11th place Shea Hammontree, Abigail Ortman, Jessica Jones, Emily Thayer
Girls Free Relay 12th place Shea Hammontree, Abigail Ortman, Jessica Jones, Emily Thayer
Boys Medley Relay 11th place Sean Duffy, Terry Phang, Ben Moers, Victor Lane