2019 SCHSL Swimming State Championship Review

An inside scoop with results and more!


On Saturday, October 12th, the Raptor state swimming team members awoke to the dim twilight of a 5 am dawn and prepared to venture to Academic Magnet to board the bus that would lead them to victory (Columbia, SC). After the short-lived scare of the bus arriving late, we spotted the fading yet proud blue and white colors slowly turn the corner. The ride was smooth, with only one stop, and finally, we arrived at The Blatt, USC Natatorium promptly at 8:45 am. Warm-ups were crowded, each lane packed with ten or more swimmers, but we powered through in order to perform at our highest possible level and represent our high school. After warming up, the seniors of each team came together to do a traditional walkout. The announcers of the meet called the names of each senior participating in and honored them, as it was their last high school meet ever. Parents cried and took photos. Then, the moment we had all been waiting for, the first event of the 2019 South Carolina State High School Championship Meet began. 

Kicking off the meet, the lady raptors got their team together for the 200-yard mixed medley relay. The medley relay consists of each stroke of swimming going in order of backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and finally, freestyle. The girls’ relay consisted of (in order of the strokes they swam) Paisley Hodges (9), Phoebe Covode(10), Mia Matthews(10), and Simone Kavarana (12). Coming from behind, the girls were able to place third statewide and earn themselves both a spot on the podium and sparkling bronze medals. Another notable race was the 500 freestyle. This race is a daunting one even without the pressure of swimming it at state in front of every single person in the world. Only two brave underclassmen girls were signed up to take on the task: Genevieve Geils (10) and Mia Matthews (10). They both made Magnet look astonishing with Mia placing 7th dropping three seconds, and Genny placing 14th dropping sixteen. Freshman Paisley Hodges was quite the star of the team this past fall with multiple first places throughout the season and a couple of podium-worthy races at the state meet as well. 

The girls’ captains Allison Rauls (12) and Simone Kavarana (12) are sad to leave as this is their fourth year swimming for Academic Magnet, but hope to see the girls team in as good of shape as it was this season and to only blossom and grow next year. 

The Raptor boys team was also extremely successful at the 2019 SCHSL Championship Meet. Out of all the 3A boys swim teams in the state, the Raptors boys team finished second as the state runner-ups, being outscored only by the private St. Joseph’s Catholic School. For individual events, senior Charles Blanc (12) came first in the state for the 100 yard butterfly, and in doing so left his last high school swim meet with a shimmering gold medal. The 100 yard butterfly is one of the most strenuous events in high school swimming, and so the just over 52 second time he swam in this event is truly incredible.. Senior Sam White (12) also got his first-ever spot on the state podium, placing third in the ever-daunting 500 yard freestyle. Freshman Kyle Hertwig also did incredibly well, placing third in both the 50 and 100 yard freestyle as well as receiving personal best times in those events as well. Not only did the Raptor swimming boys team excel individually, but as a team they also placed in the relay races. In both the 200 yard medley relay as well as in the 400 yard freestyle relay they placed second in the state. In spite of the size and other advantages held by other teams at the meet, both the boys and girls Raptor swim teams swam incredibly well. And, as well as everything else, we added one more trophy to the already impressive amount that lines the halls of the number one high school in the United States of America. 

The state meet is so important because Magnet gets the opportunity to show the rest of the high schools that we excel in more than just academics. Beyond everyone having outstanding swims, the Raptors represented Academic Magnet proudly with their amazing spirit and good sportsmanship. After each race, the raptor in the pool would shake hands with their competition, while the rest of the team waiting on deck for their swims came together cheering louder than ever. The handmade signs that hung along the wall above the team bleachers only added to the sense of unity and camaraderie that we all were so happy to share. The swimmers all agree that this amazing season would not have been possible without their incredible coaches: Coach Jaci Healy and Coach Kevin Cooney, and even though they are sad to see their beloved seniors leave, they are elated for what next season may bring.

“I’m so happy with how this season turned out and I love Simone Kavarana.

— Lilly Claypoole