Dakota Elliott of the Upper Arlington High School girls swimming and diving team felt no pain as she pushed for a state record in the 200-yard individual medley.
As a matter of fact, the senior said she couldn't feel anything at all.
Elliott came up short of that record but still won her second consecutive 200 IM state title in the Division I state meet Feb. 24 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, recording a time of 1 minute, 58.78 seconds. The record is 1:57.98, set by Akron Firestone's Katie Miller in 2013.
"I pushed in the final 100 (yards) because that's where everyone tends to fall off. Then I saw I was ahead and just told myself I had to bring it home," said Elliott, a University of Pittsburgh recruit. "I couldn't feel anything. My body was dead.
"I did want the state record. I was close, but not quite, and I'm super happy with (my) time. You always hope coming in after the taper that you have something left. I feel like I had more left. This means everything. My title was in jeopardy. (Cincinnati St. Ursula's) Hannah Foster (who finished second in 1:59.6) is a tough competitor. I just had to come in and take it."
Elliott's championship was the highlight of a state meet unlike many in recent years for UA, which finished seventh (122) behind champion Mason (236) as 55 teams scored. The Comets won their first state title.
The Bears, whose three-year run of state championships came to an end, had only two individual swimming qualifiers in Elliott and classmate Kendra Sheehan.
Elliott also finished second in the 500 freestyle (4:52.78) behind Mason's Allison Bloebaum (4:49.6) and helped the 200 medley relay place fifth (1:44.31) with Morgan Brewer, Emma Schueler and Sheehan.
Coach Dan Peterkoski marveled at Elliott's time drop. In the district meet Feb. 17 at Ohio University, Elliott swam a then-personal-best 2:00.05 to finish first.
"That was a big drop (for Dakota), and for somebody already as fast as her, that was huge," Peterkoski said. "If she went crazy, she had a shot at the state record. She did what she needed to do (in the 500 free). She was aggressive like she needed to be and she didn't have enough at the end to hold off an experienced, excellent swimmer in the 500."
Sheehan finished eighth in the 100 free (51.89) and ninth in the 100 backstroke (56.25), the latter coming minutes after the 200 free relay was disqualified because of a bad exchange. Sheehan was on the relay with Caroline Colombo, Elliott and Schueler.
"I tried not to think about that. I just had to get a good time for our team," Sheehan said. "Being a senior and a captain, that really helped me just be able to stay calm and survive crazy moments."
The 400 free relay of Colombo, Sophia Elliott, Erin Reardon and Schueler placed 10th (3:33.1).
In the state diving meet Feb. 22 at Branin Natatorium, Holly Darling finished seventh (448.4) and Julia Fidanza was eighth (438.6) to give UA a combined 23 points before swimming preliminaries began the next day. Both were competing in their first state meet.
Darling, a junior, and Fidanza, a sophomore, said they ignored the leaderboard throughout the competition.
"I don't like to know where I stand so it doesn't get into my head," Darling said. "I talk to my friends and coach (between rounds). I was talking to Maycey (Vieta, the state runner-up from Gahanna) and trying to make jokes. I think my reverse 1 1/2 dive was really good for me."
Caswell leads boys team at state
Alec Caswell of the boys team dropped four seconds in the 500 free between district and state, swimming a personal-best 4:34.45 in his preliminary heat Feb. 23 and finishing ninth in the consolation final the next day in 4:35.94.
The junior also finished 11th in the 200 free (1:42.59) a day after swimming a lifetime-best 1:41.96 in his preliminary heat.
His finals got off to a rough start in the 200 free when he slipped off the starting board.
"I think I gave great effort. I can't complain," Caswell said. "I didn't drop time (for the finals). I was racing a little tired, but I think I raced well. In the 200, I got off to a shaky start, but I still got third (in the heat). I swam the 500 smart. I wasn't as fast as in prelims, but I raced smart."
Caswell scored all of UA's 15 points, and the Bears finished 15th behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (413) as 51 teams scored. The Bombers won their ninth consecutive state title and 39th overall.
"It would be hard to match his times from prelims because they were lifetime-bests," coach Mike de Bear said. "This was a big step forward for him. We have lots of stuff to work on and he is the type who will do that, but to leave here being top-six all-time in both events (at UA) makes for a good weekend for him specifically."
Luke Landis finished 20th in the 500 free (4:43.91), and the 200 free relay of Jack McHugh, Antonio Ventresca, Avery Voss and Gavin Voss was 20th (1:28.08).