Despite some adverse conditions, last weekend's district swim meet was one of the most exciting in recent memory. The Lake Oswego boys held on for a close victory over Lakeridge while the Pacer girls redeemed an earlier nail-biting loss to the Lakers and won the day this time around. It marked the first time in over 15 years that the Pacer girls have won districts.
But, ultimately, the big story was the number of swimmers from both schools who advanced through to this week's state meet.
Before the meet, the heating device broke at the Lake Oswego pool, dropping the pool's temperature between four and five from where it is normally.
That may not seem like a significant amount but the difference did hamper some of the swimmers' breathing, making fast times all the more impressive.
'Some of the kids had a little trouble but we still had some good times,' Lake Oswego coach Karl Von Tagen said.
In the days following the district meet, both teams had to find alternate facilities for practice.
Perhaps the best race of the entire meet was the first race of the finals, the 200 medley relay. Lake Oswego's team of Alex Farrar, Mackenzie Luick, Kelsey Rueppell and Gracie Hampton swam faster than the Pacers' team of Julia Dahl, Brittany Anderson, Lydia Burris and Amy Wiley by three and a half seconds.
But, in the finals, the race went down to the wire. In the end, the Lakers came out on top by the slimmest of margins, one hundredth of a second. Lakeridge dropped nearly four seconds off of its preliminary time, beating its own school record in the process.
The times both teams turned in were good enough to qualifying them for All-American consideration.
Those times were also the second and third best in the state respectively behind Westview's relay which gives the Lakers and Pacers a legitimate shot at a state title in that event.
'All three of those teams have a shot. LO is the defending state champ but it should be a great race,' Pacer coach Justin Lindsey said.
A Pacer or Laker girl won every event at districts which wasn't a surprise considering how the team's dominated their dual meets this year.
In the 200 freestyle, Emily Lightcap won handily, cracking the two-minute barrier in the final.
'Emily is so talented. The 200 isn't really her best event because she's so good at distance. I think she'd like to swim seven more 200s,' Lindsey said.
Lake Oswego picked up its first individual victory in the 200 individual medley when Mackenzie Luick won by three and a half seconds over Lakeridge's Brittany Anderson.
Lydia Burris picked up her first of two individual victories in the 50 freestyle, nipping teammates Amy Wiley and Julia Dahl who both qualified for state with wild card times.
'Lydia had a phenomenal meet. She had been sick but she got through it,' Lindsey said.
However, Dahl will swim all three relays for Lakeridge at state, pulling out of the 50 freestyle.
'That was a very selfless thing for Julia to do. She said she just wanted to do what was best for the team,' Lindsey said.
This opened the door for Lake Oswego's Kelsey Rueppel, who was next in line for a berth at state and she will take Dahl's place in that event.
With hardly any time to rest, Burris took to the pool minutes later and won the 100 butterfly, cracking one minute in the final to edge out Alex Farrar and Rueppel.
Those two swimmers also qualified for state with their times.
'It was good to see Alex and Kelsey swim so well. Kelsey was really pleased with her meet,' von Tagen said.
Dahl earned her first win of the day for Lakeridge in the 100 freestyle in a time of 55.73 and then Lightcap won her second event for the Pacers, cruising to a 20-second victory in the 500 freestyle.
Lakeridge also won the 200 freestyle relay before the Lakers' Farrar turned in a dominating victory in the 100 backstroke, nearly breaking a minute as she won the final by over six seconds.
That was followed by another dominated Laker victory as Luick, the defending state champion in the breaststroke, easily won that event with a time of 1:05.92, giving her the top seed at state again this year.
'MacKenzie was just dominant. She actually wasn't feeling that well at the meet and she still has two seconds over the next seed at state,' von Tagen said.
Anderson also qualified with a wild card time for Lakeridge in that event.
Unlike when these two teams met in a dual meet earlier, Lakeridge entered the final event of the evening with a large enough lead that it didn't need a victory. Lake Oswego's 400 free relay team turned in a great last race, topping the Pacers by over two and a half seconds. But both teams qualified for state.
Last year the Laker girls took fourth and will look for another top-10 finish. Lakeridge girls will also look to finish in the top 10.
'It's not unreasonable to think that, with some luck, we could go as high as fifth or sixth,' Lindsey said.
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For the boys, Lake Oswego's medley relay team of Brendan Liu, Michael Sayer, Dean Stromme and Isaac Hayden took second place and Liu then turned in a stellar 200 freestyle, dropping over eight seconds off his preliminary time to beat out teammate Hayden and Lakeridge's Joey Bora, both of whom qualified for state with wild card times.
'Getting Joey in was great because he doesn't swim that event often and I think he'll drop some time (at state),' Lindsey said.
Lakeridge's Brian Cha also hit a wild card time with his second place finish in the 50 freestyle.
In the 100 butterfly, Stromme turned in a solid final for the Lakers, dropping two seconds off of his previous time but he was barely touched out at the wall by Oregon City's Michael Hargitt.
'We thought Dean had it. That's what it looked like at first,' von Tagen said.
Cha and Hayden each recorded wild card consideration times in the 100 freestyle with their second and third place finishes and will swim that event at state.
'Isaac really wanted to get in (to state) and it showed,' von Tagen said.
Lake Oswego's Sayer, a freshman, notched an easy victory in the 500 freestyle, winning by nearly 26 seconds.
The Pacers and Lakers finished first and second in the 200 free relay as well with the Lakeridge team of Cha, Jason Lou, Bora and Andrew Heymann dropping over three seconds from the prelims to the finals.
Liu followed with his second individual victory for the Lakers, dominating the 100 backstroke in a time of 54.47 to win by over five seconds.
In the final event of the day, Lakeridge took nearly seven seconds off of its preliminary time in the 400 relay to win by just 17 hundredths of a second over Lake Oswego.
But the Lakers' time was good enough to earn a trip to state as well.
The 6A state meet will be held at Mt. Hood Community College on Thursday and Friday.