AJ Smith

Key West’s record-holding AJ Smith broke even more records at districts this past week, becoming the first district boys double medalist for the Conchs. With wins in the 50 free and 100 free events, Smith earned an automatic bid to regionals on Saturday, Oct. 28. Smith serves as the anchor for two relay teams, both of which also qualified, making him a very busy swimmer next week as he attempts to become a two-time state qualifier for the southernmost swim team. Smith is ranked first in Region 4 in the 50 and second in the 100.

The Conchs finished fourth in both the boys and girls competitions at the FHSAA District 12 2A championships on Oct. 18. The relay teams fared well in the event, with the 200 medley girls team of Katelyn Noss, Gracie Lechnar, Taylor Gibson and Alyssandra Camargo placing fourth in the event and receiving a bid to regionals. Noss, Lechnar, Camargo and Reeghan Davis teamed up for a fifth-place finish in the 200 free relay, which did not quite make the cut for regionals but placed the team in an alternate position should another team be unable to compete. 

The 400 free relay team of Noss, Davis, Hadley Bardoni and Megan Fedor placed sixth, advancing to regionals with their time in a fast-paced district. Camargo will be busy next week swimming her relays in addition to the 50 free and 100 free individual events, in which she placed fifth and sixth, respectively. Her times were fast enough to earn at-large bids to the next level of competition.

Alyssandra Camargo

The boys’ relays were strong as well, advancing the 400 free team of Jeffrey Hoyt, Santiago Gonzalez, Westley Ellerbee and Roan Milelli. The team placed sixth and qualified for an at-large spot via time. Eli Morris, Hugo Blinckmann, Anthony Korzen and AJ Smith placed fourth in the 200 medley relay, advancing to regionals. Hoyt, Milelli, Korzen and Smith also qualified in the 200 free relay, placing fourth at districts. Gonzalez and Hoyt were given some hope in individual events, with both earning alternate spots in their events. Gonzalez was 10th in the 200 free and Hoyt placed fifth in the 500 free event. 

Coral Shores claimed two district titles of their own at the FHSAA District 12 1A championships on Oct. 21. The Lady ’Canes placed fourth in the competition, advancing all three of their relay teams plus four individuals. 

Abbie Sargent was the big winner for the ’Canes, earning a district gold medal in the 200 IM. Sargent earned silver in the 100 breaststroke and qualified as an individual in both events. She went on to earn gold again, this time in the 200 free relay where she teamed up with Layne Smith, Riley Cooper and Allegra Fucaraccio. The same foursome claimed second in the 200 medley relay, earning silver medals and a bid to regionals in that event. Larkin Dunn, Sophia Figueredo, Rachel Rusch and Lola Young placed fifth in the 400 free relay with a time fast enough to advance to the next level via an at-large bid. Layne Smith placed second in the 200 free and third in the 500 free, giving her four events at regionals. Fucaraccio qualified in the 200 IM via at-large bid and Figueredo will serve as an alternate in the same event plus the 100 breaststroke should another athlete be unable to compete. 

The final individual qualifier for the Lady Canes is Cooper, who will swim at least three events including her two relays plus the 100 fly. Cooper placed fourth in the event at districts. She also is a long shot to swim a fourth race, the 50 free, in which she is an alternate. Rusch placed third in her first year of competitive diving but was just under the qualifying score for regionals. 

Four athletes on the boys team qualified for regional competition and will join the girls in Fort Lauderdale. The 400 free relay team of Patrick O’Donnell, Anthony Jeffry, Evan Osipov and Mason Osipov placed fifth and qualified for an at-large appearance. The same team took sixth in the 200 free and are the alternate team at regionals. O’Donnell is the lone individual competitor for Coral Shores. He placed fourth in the 200 IM and 500 free and will represent the ’Canes at the next level.

Key West will take on the rest of FHSAA’s 2A Region 4 athletes on Saturday, Oct. 28 in Stuart at the Sailfish Splash. Events begin at 10 a.m. 1A Coral Shores dives in on Friday, Oct. 27 at the Nova Southeastern University Aquatics Complex, also beginning at 10 a.m. Swimmers who manage to make the cut for the big show have just one week after regionals to prepare. This year’s state meet will take place in Ocala at the Florida Aquatics Swimming & Training Center, on Nov. 3 for Key West and Nov. 4 for Coral Shores.

Tracy McDonald fled to the Keys from the frozen mountains of Pennsylvania hours after graduating from college and never looked back. She is a second generation coach and educator, and has taught in the public school system for over 25 years. She and her husband met at a beginning teacher meeting in 1997 and have three children born and raised in Monroe County. In her free time, McDonald loves flea markets, historical fiction and long runs in the heat.