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There are several swimmers that Mississippi Shockwave Aquatic Team coach Robert Gonzalez depends on to provide wins and points in a state championship situation.
One particular member of the Shockwave emerged at the State Short-course Championships in Laurel earlier this month that Gonzalez wasn't expecting.
Mary Catherine Ray was seeded in the top five going into the 11-12 girls 50 breaststroke, but went out and won the competitive event with a time of 37.19.
"When I heard her name announced in the preliminaries as the No. 1 seed for finals, that caught my ear more than anything," Gonzalez said. "Of all the races, that was the most fun because in finals that night, it was so unexpected in her first-ever state championship on the individual basis."
The margin of victory was slim as the eighth-place swimmer notched a time of 37.9.
"You are talking about with 5 yards out, it was anybody's race and she just emerged the last couple of strokes to pull it out," Gonzalez said. "That was great for her and I hope it builds her confidence level."
Gonzalez was happy with the performance of the entire team, but particularly the 11-12 girls division that one first-place showing and three third-place finishes.
The Shockwave, which finished second in the state as a team with 4,130 points, had 36 swimmers qualify for state and 34 participated with 85 percent of the team getting the best times of the season.
"That was a really high number for any kind of meet but to have that in a state championship, it's what you want to see as a coach," Gonzalez said. "You want your best swims to come at the most important meet of the season. To be able to finish it off that way was really good for us."
It has been the pattern since Gonzalez took over as coach of the Shockwave that the breaststroke has been the strongest event for the squad.
The trend continued at the state championships as the Shockwave had three different individuals took home breaststroke titles.
Along with Ray, Cheng Ye won the 100 and 200 breaststroke in 13-14 boys and Laken Vickers won the 100 and 200 breaststroke in 13-14 girls.
"They went into the meet seeded No. 1 and both had great swims," Gonzalez said. "They left the meet seeded with AAA times and left with quad A time so they moved up in the rankings on a national basis."
Other top three finishers for the Shockwave were Andy Bond (third in senior boys 400 individual medley), Laken Vickers (third in 13-14 girls 50 freestyle), Cade Vickers (second in 9-10 boys 50 and 100 breaststroke and third in boys 100 butterfly), Adam Bond (second in 13-14 boys 200 butterfly and third in 13-14 boys 100 butterfly), Angie Harri (third in 11-12 girls 200 individual medley), Anna Carr (third in 11-12 girls 50 and 100 backstroke), and Ye (second in 13-14 boys individual medley and third in 13-14 boys butterfly).
"Although Cheng Ye's breaststrokes were solid, his 200 individual medley is a race we've been having a couple of issues with this season," Gonzalez said. "He really put all four strokes together, had had a good competition in the finals and finished second after being seeded sixth. He went from a 215 down to a 209 in that one race."
Gonzalez said Carr and Adam Bond were able to cut times in the 50 backstroke and 200 butterfly, respectively.
The Shockwave now look ahead to the long-course season that starts Monday with the sign-up day.
It's Gonzalez's hope to build off the success of the short-course season and new swimmers will become involved.
"We're really excited for the summer time," Gonzalez said. "We don't have too many kids who are aging out of their division so we should be stronger in the long-course season. All we can do is build."
The anticipation is building for a June trip to New Orleans for a meet that Gonzalez says will allow the team to expand their competition to a Southeastern region basis.