The 2023 GHSA Swimming and Diving State Championships will take place at the Westminster Schools & Georgia Tech’s Aquatic Center for four days of action that will begin on Tuesday, January 31st with all diving events before wrapping up the swimming events on Saturday, February 4th. Diving events will be held at Westminster, while swimming events will be at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center. After all diving events commence on Tuesday, Class 7A will hit the lanes on Wednesday, followed by Class 6A on Friday and Class A-5A on Saturday.
The continued dominance of Westminster and Marist in their respective classifications make them the programs to keep an eye on. Between the boys and girls programs, the Wildcats have won an incredible 55 total swimming state titles, while the War Eagles have won 21 total swimming state titles. Both teams are coming off consecutive state title wins, and 2014 is the last year a state title was not won by one of the programs.
The Westminster girls and boys are each aiming for their sixth-straight state title. Leading the Lady Wildcats are Janine Horst and Virginia-commit Katie Christopherson. Christopherson set the state record (1:56.72) by winning the 200-yard individual medley last year, and alongside Horst, helped set the state record in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:32.56) during last year’s state championships. Christopherson is the second-best swimmer in the state this season with 704.15 total points and trails Lambert’s Kara West by just 1.65 points. The Wildcats will now compete in Class 4-5A, but expect the same level of dominance they had in Class A-3A for the past five years.
The Marist boys are seeking their fourth-consecutive state swimming title and lead the standings right now in total points, but will be swimming against strong competition in Class 6A after a three-year stretch of dominance in Class 4-5A. Coach Christopher Marshall talked about how he is preparing his team for the state finals and what has been his emphasis outside of the pool.
“For me, it is developing that core and body strength to transcend to what we do in the water,” said Marshall. “My approach has been to shift more to getting kids stronger, so when we are in the water we can focus on developing speed. The weight room not only helps us gain strength but also prevents injuries.”
In Class 7A, the North Gwinnett boys are seeking to win their third title in four years (2020, 2021). Last year the Bulldogs finished in second place behind Parkview, who picked up the programs first title since 2013 and eleventh all-time, only losing by eight points. North Gwinnett is back to avenge its loss and is led by Georgia-commit Tristan Denbrok. South Forsyth’s Derek Henry is a top swimmer in the state and will be pivotal in helping lift a potential first title in school history.
The Johns Creek boys are seeking their third-consecutive title, and fourth all-time, in Class 6A. Last year, the Gladiators won by 120 points to capture the state title. Auburn-commit Britton Spann is a name to watch for Johns Creek as he will compete in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard breaststroke.
On the girls’ side in Class 7A, the Walton girls have been impressive all season and recently won their county championships as they aim to snag a consecutive state title. The Raiders are led by Lily Alderman, who placed second in last year’s 100-yard freestyle (51.90) and 100-yard backstroke (57.14), and Virginia Tech-commit Sydney Starnes, who placed second in last year’s 500-yard freestyle (4:57.22) and third in the 200-yard individual medley (2:06.64)
In Class A-3A, with Westminster being reclassified, the door is wide open. A new champion will be crowned for the first time since the classification debuted in 2018. Gilmer, Sandy Creek and Oconee County will be the teams to watch for in the Class A-3A competition. Individual names to keep an eye on are Oconee County’s Louisiana State-commit Simon Casey, who is the fifth-ranked swimmer in the state and won first-place (4:33.81) in the 500-yard freestyle in last year’s state finals. Mt. Pisgah’s Emma Livezey, a Birmingham Southern College-commit, is another name to watch for. Livezey finished second (52.46) in the 100-yard freestyle in last year’s state championships.
Credit: Channel 2 Action News