TIFTON — At this point, Tift County swimmers in the final round of state could be considered old hat. However, the Swim Devils keep pushing higher each season.
Tift teams had the highest scores of any school in Class AAAAAAA not located in metro Atlanta. The Lady Devils were 15th with 91 points; the Blue Devils took 16th with 79.5 points. Thirty-two girls teams and 33 boys teams hit the pool for the competition.
“Every year I think they can’t outdo the year before,” said head coach Ivey Vickers. “They keep producing.”
Tift finished in the top 10 in five swimming events after making the finals in 13.
Eden Troxell had the best finish of anyone, taking fourth in the 500 freestyle. Vickers pointed out that her time of 5:02.97 was only a second from making the podium; third place swam the 500 in 5:01.37.
Beau Bengston was fifth in the 100 backstroke, rising four places from his seed in preliminary competition. J.D. Bengston tied for seventh in the 50 freestyle, up from 12th in the preliminaries. The Bengston twins each had an eighth place individually as well. Beau was eighth in the 100 butterfly and J.D. was eighth in the 100 freestyle.
Troxell took 12th in the 200 freestyle. She, Ainsley Toews, Karoline Ponder and Cason Johnston had a pair of 12th place finishes in relays, the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle. Toews was individually 18th in the 200 individual medley as well as the 100 breaststroke. Johnston took 22nd in the 50 freestyle.
In addition to the high ranking, the 200 freestyle team, set a new school record with a time of 1:42.51.
Boys relays also had two top 20 results. Beau Bengston, J.D. Bengston, Dylan Coker and Hayden Roberts were 15th in the 400 freestyle and 19th in the 200 freestyle.
Getting to the finals was also a magical day for Vickers and company. “We did really well Friday,” she said. Records were set in the girls 200 freestyle and boys 400 freestyle relay and Toews (200 individual medley), Beau Bengston (100 butterfly) and Troxell (500 freestyle) set marks in individual races.
As leadoff swimmers in relays, Toews and Beau Bengston set more Tift speed records. Toews’ success is especially special considering that
The day before swimming competed, Vickers attended the state diving competition with freshman Emma Bryan. Bryan was second in the state, amazing her coach in both athleticism and poise.
“I think I was more nervous than she was,” said Vickers. “She was focused the entire time.”