McDade comes home with gold

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 11/17/21

In one of the closest races of the day, a blink on an eye, according to Fleming Island High swim coach Jordan Bright, sophomore freestyle sprinter Maryn McDade utilized a sterling flip turn and push …

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McDade comes home with gold

Posted

In one of the closest races of the day, a blink on an eye, according to Fleming Island High swim coach Jordan Bright, sophomore freestyle sprinter Maryn McDade utilized a sterling flip turn and push off to gain the necessary space to bring home a swim gold and silver medal as Fleming Island competed in the Class 3A swimming championships Saturday in Stuart.

“Maryn and Ekk (Isabella Ekk, a sophomore at Tallahassee Chiles) were literally stroke for stroke,” said Bright, after watching McDade battle with Ekk and Naples junior Havana Layton in the 100 freestyle. “Any miniscule Ekk might have gained was quickly erased by Maryn’s flip turn; .12 of a second is literally impossible to see by the naked eye. It was a great race.”

In the 100 free, McDade, Ekk and Layton opened the first 50 with splits of 24.74, 24.36 and 24.88 giving Ekk a .38 second edge on McDade; .52 on Layton, at the wall of the second turn; at 50 meters.

In the second 50, Layton ripped a 26.59. McDade went 26.73 and Ekk went 26.99 with both Layton and McDade gaining on Ekk, but not closing the gap. McDade and Layton would eventually be ruled a tie with Ekk winning the event by Bright’s .12 calculation.

Fourth place with the third best time was Gisella Wright of Countryside at 51.75.

Earlier in the meet’s finals rounds, McDade blasted the field with a 23.58 gold medal finish over Leigha Oconnor of East Ridge High in a distant 23.92 who held off Gisella Wright’s 23.94 for third. Ekk was eliminated via a false start in the 50.

For Bright, McDade’s gold was a welcomed affirmation of his prowess at cultivating speed on his team, but his history has been with four fast relay members for his gold medals. Fleming Island has won gold in the girls 200 medley relay the past two years with just senior Christine Johnson the final member of those teams.

“Johnson finished strong for her senior year even though she didn’t get the realy gold, she got a top eight in the 100 butterfly and the 200 individual medley,” said Bright. “Though the relay gold streak is halted, with McDade only a sophomore, I got two more years to rebuild.”

The Fleming Island girls 200 medley relay failed to make the championship finals, but the 400 free relay; Karen Tang, McDade, Johnson and junior Kelsey Bright, finished seventh to earn a medal. The 200 free relay; McDade, Bright, Taylor Peck and Johnson finished 13th.

“We moved Christine and Maryn out of the medley relays to free them up to be 100 percent for their individual swims,” said Bright. “Next year’s relay success will obviously be centered around Maryn and she will need help from senior Karen Tang and Kesley Bright.”

Johnson ends her swim days at Fleming Island with two gold medals from the two past 200 medley relays, plus a sixth place finish in the 100 butterfly and a 17th place in the 200 individual medley.

“Christine finished strong for her senior year even though she didn’t get the relay gold,” said Bright. “She has had so many years at these high stakes meets. She leaves us as one of the top five female swimmers in school history; a dependable, dynamic swimmer who showed her versatility.”

In the 100 breaststroke, Julia Sheffler finished 17th.

For the women team scores, Ponte Vedra won the team title over Chiles; both in Fleming Island’s region 1-3A lineup with St. Petersburg High third; 245-203-165. Fleming Island was 12th at 79.5.

For the boys, Alec Bilyeu stole the show for Fleming Island with a fourth in the 50 free in 21.69 with winner Andrew Billitto of Seminole winning in 20.56.

Bilyeu also finished eighth in the 100 butterfly in 52.52 with Mitchell Ledford of Sebring winning at 46.86 with Billitto second in 47.55; both All America times.

Sophomore Dylan Ducut was 15th in the 100 butterfly.

Orange Park seniors Ryan Pritchard and Jose Medina also traveled to Stuart with Medina 17th in the 200 free and 18th in the 500 free. Pritchard was 12th in the 100 breaststroke and the Orange Park 200 free relay mens team; Medina, Sebastian Lopez, Kaden Danninger and Pritchard, finished 12th.

Chiles won the mens tiles over Jesuit and Countryside, 159-239-162. Fleming Island was 26th.

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