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Fast finish nets Pettit title

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LHS junior swimmer wins 50 freestyle state crown

By Robert Howey

 

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After the pivotal turn, Lancaster High School junior swimmer Jory Pettit turned it on to capture a coveted Class AAAA individual swim state championship.

Pettit, a fifth-year member of the Bruins’ swim team, used a blazing sprint finish to win the 50-yard freestyle state championship in the Class AAAA meet at the University of South Carolina Natatorium on Saturday afternoon.

Pettit swam a 21.47 to edge Byrnes High School senior swimmer Alex Wood, who won the silver with a 21.61.

“It was a battle royal between those two,” said LHS assistant swim coach David Taylor. “I know this when Jory got out of the pool, his lips were blue.

“He didn’t leave anything in the pool,” Taylor said. “It was an all-out race.”

Pettit, who qualified for the Class AAAA meet as the Region III-AAAA champion in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle, said his effort in the final 25 yards was the difference. Pettit was the top 50 state qualifier in 21.30 and 100 freestyle in 47.34.

“He (Wood) was just ahead of me as we made the turn,” Pettit said. “It was just one of those instincts you know.”

So after making the pivotal turn, Pettit made his crucial move.

“I made my turn and got back on top of the water so I could start my stroke,” Pettit said. “I was the first on top of the water, so I put my head down and swam as hard as I could. I don’t think I breathed until the finish.”

Taylor said Pettit’s speed on top of the water was the key.

“Jory is the first natural sprinter I’ve coached,” Taylor said. “When he gets on top of the water, it’s a marvel. It’s like he has an Evinrude attached, but he doesn’t. It’s just his natural talent.

“Much like Shawn Crawford (Olympic champion and former Indian Land and Clemson track star) has that gift of speed in track, Jory has that physical gift for speed to swim,” Taylor said.

Pettit knew he swam well, but didn’t know the verdict.

“I saw my name and it had one right behind it,” he said. “That’s a great feeling when you think about all the hard work you put in.”

Lancaster High School swim coach Marley Cole said Pettit was focused on his goal.

“Jory had his mind set going to the meet on Saturday,” Cole said. “Jory has showed us nothing but determination throughout the season and it showed Saturday at the state meet.”

Pettit’s title was the first for a Lancaster High School swimmer since Kathleen Quinn won the 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley in 2001.

Pettit’s banner day also included a silver medal as he finished a close second to Wood in the 100-meter freestyle.

Wood, in winning the 100 freestyle gold, posted a 47.13 to take the win, with Pettit a close second at 47.57.

LHS was 12th in the 28-team field with 93 points. Pettit, Connor Poston, Jonah Faile and Adam Augeson placed 10th in the 200 freestyle and 11th in the 400 freestyle at the state meet.

Pettit’s 100 runner-up effort and chance to repeat in the 50 free is motivation for his highly anticipated senior season.

“Next year my goal is to win both,” Pettit said.

Taylor said Pettit will be a favorite.

“With Jory’s natural progression of cutting his time, he should win both,” he said. “I  know he will work hard because he has the motivation to win both state titles next season.”

Cole is confident, too.

“I believe that Jory will blow us away next year with two gold medals,” Cole said. “Jory will achieve what he puts his mind to. It is a true honor to coach Jory.”