By RODRICK ANDERSON
The LHSAA state swimming championships will begin today at the Sulphur Parks and Recreation Aquatic Center.
Over 1,300 athletes from across the state are expected to participate.
The meet will kick off with the Division IV prelims at 9:30 a.m. followed by the Division III prelims at 4 p.m. The first champions will be crowned Thursday morning with the Division IV finals starting at 9 a.m. and Division III at 3 p.m.
Friday will start the second half of the state meet with the Division II prelims at 9:30 a.m. and Division I at 4 p.m. The meet will conclude on Saturday with the Division II finals at 9 a.m. and Division I at 3 p.m.
The top-eight in each event advance to the finals while the next eight finishers move on to the consolation finals.
14 Southwest Louisiana athletes are seeded in the top 10 led by Jennings sophomore Brennon Conner.
As a freshman last year, Conner won the 100-yard freestyle and set a Division III record of 46.92 seconds to smash the old mark of 48.39 set by Josh Stibrich (Lutheran) in 1994. He is seeded second in the event this year at 47.90 behind Episcopal’s Jiang Eugene (47.81).
Conner missed setting a record in the 50 freestyle by 0.01 seconds on his way to a state title with a time of 21.52 seconds. He will be the No. 1 seed this time around at 21.62 seconds and is looking to break Edmond Ring’s division record of 21.51 seconds that has stood since 1994.
In Division I, Barbe senior Natalie Stump is after her third consecutive state title in the 200-yard freestyle. She is seeded No. 1 at 1:55.80 and seeded second in the 500 freestyle (5:07.71). She was the runner up to in the 500 last year to Lafayette’s sophomore Anni Thompson, who is the top seed this year at 5:03.77.
Sulphur senior Sydney Weidner has medaled each of her last two trips to the state meet. She placed third in the 200 freestyle last year and is seeded 10th at 2:05.12. She was the runner up in the 200 in 2017. Weinder is seeded sixth in the 500 freestyle (5:33.79).
Also for Sulphur, sophomore Brice Bounds in seeded in the top-eight in the 100 (49.50) and 200 (1:49.76) freestyle.
Other Bucs with top-eight seeds include juniors Cypris Wilkinson (100 freestyle, 55.70) and Cameron Hinton (500 freestyle, 5:00.43).
In Division III, St. Louis Catholic junior Mason Schlang is seeded in the top-five in the 100 butterfly (54.94) and 100 breaststroke (1:03.84). Teammate Andrew Wang is seeded sixth and eighth in the 50 (23.74) and 100 freestyle (52.50) respectively. Jennings senior Breydon Conner is seeded seventh in the 100 backstroke (59.15).
In Division IV, Bell City sophomore Thierry Maier is seeded fourth in the 50 freestyle (23.76 seconds) and the 100 backstroke (59.02 seconds).
Vinton has a pair of swimmers seeded in the top-10 in senior David Goff (100 fly, 8th, 1:06.16) and junior Isaac Findley in the 50 (10th, 25.82 seconds) and 100 freestyle (4th, 58.36 seconds).
Sam Houston junior Allison Hull barely missed on a podium finish last year with a fourth place in the 100 butterfly and is seeded third this year (1:04.54). She is also seeded third in the 50 freestyle (26.03).
DeRidder freshman Hunter Bartlett is seeded in the top-eight in the 100 butterfly (58.50) and 100 backstroke (1:03.97).