ATLANTA — Lambert’s Alexander Reyman, Daniel Gallagher, Lleyton Smith and Mikhail Johnson stepped towards starting block No. 8 for their final race in the Class 6-7A state swim meet at Georgia Tech on Saturday night.
They were all tired after a long night of competition, but in the moment, they had to ignore that. With the Longhorns finishing third over the last three years, they knew their collective performance in the 400-yard freestyle relay would determine whether the Longhorns would better that place.
The four swimmers responded to that pressure about as well as they could imagine. After a solid first three legs, Johnson closed out the race by just beating out Lassiter’s swimmer. Not only did Lambert finish the race second behind state power Brookwood, but with a time of 3:08.49, they had just set the new school record for the event by three seconds.
“We were down some points, sitting in third place and we pulled out that second place in the relay,” Gallagher said. “Those team races are the best part about this meet and the best part about high school swimming.”
After their final performance, Lambert boys proudly stood on the podium, celebrating their new status as state runners-up to first place Brookwood, amassing a total of 266 points. South Forsyth’s girls joined them as the only other county team to make the podium, finishing third with 241 team points.
“Over the last four years, we've just been moving up the ranks,” Gallagher said. “It's been awesome to see everybody improve from year to year. It's a pretty amazing feeling.”
Lambert’s core of boys did what they could to keep their team competitive. Gallagher started his day off with a second-place finish in the 200-yard individual medley that he almost came from behind to win. Reyman finished third in the 100-yard butterfly, while Smith placed in second in the 100-yard backstroke. The Longhorns also placed second in the 200-yard medley relay.
Caroline Perry led South’s girls with her races, earning second in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard backstroke. After helping the War Eagles to a fifth-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay, Emery Betzer found out about her team’s fortunes the same way the onlookers in the stands did — over the loudspeakers.
"I was really surprised,” she said. “I didn't take into account that 6A and 7A (was combined) -- I forgot. I was actually talking to my mom and ran over to go be with my team."
Swimmers from other Forsyth schools put in some standout performances as well. North Forsyth’s Hailey Galbraith won the 7A title in the 50-yard girls freestyle and second in the 100-yard butterfly. West Forsyth’s Jack Aikins placed first in the boys 50-yard freestyle with a time of 20.67.
“It's just an honor to represent such a great team,” Aikins said. “I didn't expect much to come out of it -- I expected top three. To be honest, I didn't know I was really winning. I just tried to focus and I came out on top.”
Final team standings
1. South Forsyth, 241
2. Lambert, 185
3. West Forsyth, 77
4. North Forsyth, 53
5. Forsyth Central, 41
1. Lambert, 266
2. West Forsyth, 162
3. North Forsyth, 114
4. South Forsyth, 65
5. Forsyth Central, 58.5