Orem senior swimmer Leah Gale said she viewed Saturday’s 4A state meet at BYU as a chance for redemption.
“My first years I did really bad at state,” Gale said. “Last year, I had my best year and I was second (in the 50-yard freestyle), but the girl who finished first was a senior so I knew I had a chance to win this year.”
But she also knew that swimming in the sprint race meant there is no room at all for error.
“It’s stressful,” she said. “You know you it has to be a perfect race but I did what I practiced to do. I dropped time in the preliminaries, so I knew I could do it.”
Gale surged to the lead off the block and then finished strong, edging Lehi senior Grace Sturgill to win the state title in a time of 24.53.
She said having a Region 10 swimmer she knows well get second was an added thrill.
“I love her,” Gale said. “We are super-good friends. She broke 25 seconds for the first time (finishing in 24.97 seconds), which was awesome. It’s great swimming with people you know and love.”
Gale was one of two Utah Valley swimmers from Orem to get individual titles in the 4A competition as Gale’s Tiger teammate, junior Addison Richards won the 100-yard breaststroke for the second straight year.
“I wanted to swim stronger than I did in the preliminaries,” Richards said. “The time was an improvement but it still wasn’t my best. It was a really good feeling to win. I knew I could do it again and I had a lead going in but you never know.”
She said she was also excited to see Gale get her state championship.
“It was awesome,” Richards said. “It’s so cool to have two Orem girls win titles. We’re not a big team so for both of us to take titles is awesome.”
Gale ended up third in the 100-yard freestyle, saying overall she was pleased with how she wrapped up her high school career.
“This was a great way to end my senior year before I look to walk-on at BYU,” Gale said.
While no other local athletes won championships, six did end up with runner-up performances.
In addition to Sturgill in the 50-yard freestyle, Lehi junior Kaylee Richards (200-yard freestyle) and the Pioneer 200-yard medley relay team were second, while Spanish Fork junior Austin Butler was second in the 200-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle.
Addison Richards came in second in the 200-yard individual medley for Orem as well.
The Tiger girls team ended up in fifth place overall, while the Spanish Fork boys team came in fifth as well. Desert Hills won both the boys and girls team titles.
Payson was named the 4A girls swimming academic state champions.
For complete results, go to http://UHSAA.org.