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Swim and dive: West boys take third at state meet, setting a new record
West boys
West Forsyth's boys swim team poses with the third place trophy after the GHSA state swim meet on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2020. - photo by David Almeda

ATLANTA — West Forsyth’s boys swim team wasn’t about to shortchange itself.

The Wolverines finished 11th as a team during the 2019 GHSA state swim meet, but as far as they were concerned, that was ancient history. They knew how good they were going into Saturday night’s state meet — good enough not just to place in the top three, but to leave a mark that would make even more of an impact.

“I think coming into it, we all thought we had a really good chance of taking down some state records,” West junior Jack Aikins said. “That was just what motivated us. Leading up to this, starting at county, it's been in our brains since then.”

And by the end of the night, West had shown that it was more than strong enough to accomplish those lofty goals, not only taking third place as a team with 236 points, but setting a new state record in the process.

“I think we're all tremendously proud of how much this team has progressed over the years,” Aikins said. “This is definitely the best year we've ever (had) as a team. I'm just kind of in shock at this point.”

West’s record-setting moment came in the 200 freestyle relay, with the team of Aikins, Brett Sasser, Griffin Egolf and Owen Holland breaking the old mark with a time of 1:23.74. That same team came very close to setting another record during their victory in the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:03:44), missing out by just six hundredths of a second.

“They all come back next year — they'll get it,” West coach Clayton Tillery said. “Hands down, they'll get it.”

The early part of the meet featured the county’s four individual state champions: On the boys side, there was Aikins, who placed first in the boys 50-yard freestyle (19.74) and 100-yard freestyle (43.27), and Lambert’s Daniel Gallagher, who won the boys 200-yard individual medley (1:49.36).

West also had a girls champion in June Phang, who won the girls 100-yard breaststroke (1:04.22). North Forsyth’s Hailey Galbraith defended her 50 freestyle title from last year with a time of 23.20. She also placed second in the 100-yard butterfly (25.63).

Sasser finished second behind Aikins in the 100 free (21.88). North senior Alex Gonzalez made some history, setting a school record in the 100-yard backstroke with a second-place finish (24.30).

North Forsyth's Hailey Galbraith celebrates on the podium after winning her second straight 50-yard girls freestyle title at the GHSA state meet on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. - photo by David Almeda

With West's heavy hitters on the boys side all coming back next year, the Wolverines are excited to lift their goals even higher.

“(The future’s) bright, especially next year with those guys," Tillery said. “It's untapped, and only two of those guys graduate next year. Those other guys are pretty stinking good. We're excited.”