Hammond’s girls swimming team reached the pinnacle on Oct. 2 at Augusta Aquatics Center. The Skyhawks of coach Janice Thompson claimed their first state championship by a 183-151 margin over Midlands rival Ben Lippen.
“What an exciting day it was,” said Thompson, a former star at the University of South Carolina.
“I am proud of each and every one of our swimmers. There were many outstanding swims and many personal-best times.”
Thompson was especially happy for sophomore Kelly Presper, who contributed mightily to the Skyhawks cause despite swimming with a heavy heart. Her grandmother passed away the day before the state meet.
“I asked Kelly what she wanted to do and to tell her that whatever decision she made would be support by the team,” said Thompson.
“But she said she wanted to swim and dedicated her performance to the memory of her grandmother. She had a great day under trying circumstances, and that gave the entire team a lift.”
Presper and Ann Gray Jumper shared the spotlight by coming away with three gold medals apiece. Presper was the champion in the 100 free, while Jumper finished first in the 100 breaststroke. Presper and Jumper were also members of two gold-medal relay teams – the 200 free and 200 medley foursomes.
Presper completed an impressive haul with a silver medal in the 2oo individual medley. Jumper was sixth in her other individual event – the 50 free.
Sydney Bland was another top producer for the Skyhawks. Bland struck gold in the 100 backstroke and was a member of the winning 200 medley relay team that opened the meet on a high note for Hammond. Bland also bagged two silvers medals, thanks to a runner-up finish in the 100 butterfly and as a member of the second-place 400 free relay team that closed out the memorable occasion.
Hammond employed seven swimmers in the three relays. Amelia Green, Dorian Green, Catherine Borden and Sarah Dobbs, the only senior on the team, were utilized to good effect along with the big guns.
Dorian Green (4th in the 50 free and 5th in the 100 free) Dobbs (6th in the 100 backstroke), Amelia Green (sixth in the 50 free) and Clara Castles (10th in the 100 breaststroke) all contributed to the team scoring total in individual events.