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Lee County swimmers shine in opener

LEESBURG -- Kelly Futch wasn't sure what to expect when she took over the Lee County swim team for outgoing coach Karen Hancock this year.

Well, last Friday, she was pleasantly surprised.

"I was very pleased. This group really has a lot of potential," Futch said Tuesday after last week's season-opening sweep by her boys and girls teams of Americus-Sumter -- a win that included two individual Lady Trojans swimmers and one relay team posting state qualifying times in the season's very first meet.

Haley Kerry, a junior, is already set for the state championships in February in Atlanta after posting a time of 57.25 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle, as did sophomore Casey Schoenberger with a time of 58.09. The state qualifying mark both girls had to beat was 58.5.

Meanwhile, the Lady Trojans' relay team of Schoenberger, Kerry, Kali Eigenberg and Shelby Hancock qualified for state in the 200 medley, posting a time of 2:07, which was one second under the state mark.

Futch said her boys "swam hard," but were unable to post any state qualifying times at this meet.

AMERICUS SHOWS PROMISE:

Not to be left out was the performance of the host teams, the Panthers and Lady Panthers, coached by Tim DeMott.

While Americus failed to post any state qualifying times, the 200 freestyle relay team of Michael Petron, Collin Steele, Allen Garrett and Oscar Chavira finished second. Americus' Lily Rickett, meanwhile, was the top girls swimmer for AMS, finishing second in the 50 free.

"We lost a number of state qualifiers from last year, so we're a little green (in the early going)," DeMott said.