Kalvin Koethke of the Grove City High School boys swimming and diving team was 1.29 seconds faster in the 50-yard freestyle in the Division I district meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State than he'd been seven days earlier at sectional.
But even after Koethke placed fourth in 20.27 and the sophomore's coaches told him he was in prime position to earn an at-large berth to his first state meet, Koethke remained skeptical.
"I just started tapering last week so hopefully it'll be enough," he said. "But hey, everybody else is working hard too. It's not easy to get to this point."
Koethke shouldn't have worried. He did earn an at-large berth to Branin Natatorium in Canton and is seeded 10th for the preliminaries, which take place Friday, Feb. 21.
The finals will be held Saturday, Feb. 22.
The top two placers in each swimming event at district automatically advanced to state. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on district times statewide.
"You always want to go faster at this point," Koethke said. "The coaches really didn't tell me what they were expecting, but they did tell me that what I did exceeded expectations. You always think you can go faster."
Koethke fell short of state in the 100 free, placing eighth in 47.85 as the top six swimmers broke 47 seconds. The 200 free relay, on which Koethke teamed with Adam Stretch, Isaac Stretch and Graham Sullivan, was 14th (1:32.1).
Grove City scored 51 points and finished 15th behind champion St. Charles (304) as 25 teams scored.
"Kalvin had an amazing day," assistant coach Matt Long said. "He dropped more time from his 50 and 100. The 100 is one of the events he's struggled with. Part of our job as coaches this year has been to make sure he believes he can succeed."
The girls team did not advance anyone to state, nor did it score at district. Hampered by asthma, Mallory Best was 29th in the 500 free (5:56.49) and the 400 free relay was 25th (4:08.95) with Best, Kayla Heacock, Margo Leist and Allyson Payne.
Upper Arlington (522.5) won its 15th consecutive district championship as 24 teams scored.
"Everyone across the board dropped time except Mallory, and she wasn't feeling well," Long said. "But she dropped another two seconds off her 100 freestyle in the 400 free relay. We're very pleased with what we've seen between (sectional) and (district)."
Comets' season ends at district
The Central Crossing boys team's season ended at district.
The Comets had advanced all three relays but no individuals. The 200 medley relay (2:02.68) and 400 free relay (4:02.63) each placed 28th, and the 200 free relay (1:45.33) was 29th.
No boys individuals, or girls individuals or relays, advanced to district.
Central Crossing loses 11 seniors from a team that started with 34 swimmers but dwindled to 26 by the time of the OCC-Central Division meet Jan. 25 at Thomas Worthington.
The boys team was seventh (28) in the league meet behind UA (372), Olentangy Liberty (260), Dublin Coffman (206), Hilliard Davidson (151), Marysville (145) and Thomas (126). The girls also placed seventh, behind UA (470), Liberty (229), Thomas (205), Coffman (131.5), Davidson (119) and Marysville (64.5).
In a sectional Feb. 8 at UA, the boys scored 20 points to place 10th of 11 teams behind champion St. Charles (340.5) and the girls were last (6) of 13 teams behind champion UA (494).
Among the Comets' seniors were Zach Aleman, Nikki Brewer, Ben Campbell and Troy Lare, who led the relays at sectional. Central Crossing had no juniors on either team.
"We lose a lot of seniors this year, so much of this is building for next year," coach Robert Boggs said. "Next year, we'll have no seniors. We'll be a young team, so hopefully we can use all of this as progression."