Lakeside High School has 15 seniors competing on the swim teams this year. They are Marc Rodriguez (front row, from left), Sarah Wexler, Megan Eustice and Anna Fryant; Michael Gibson (second row, from left), Peter Caruana, Mary Mattman, Erica Mankin, Leanne Kutlik and Amanda Bell; Shannon Snowdy (back row, from left), Sarah Brandenburg, Kyle Lunsford, Tara Wabbersen and Shannon Burnette.
Bryan Wells never experienced the athletic rivalry between Lakeside and Greenbrier high schools. He graduated from Lakeside in 1996, and Greenbrier didn't open until the fall of that year.
But now, in his first season of coaching the Lakeside swimming and diving teams, Wells is reveling in the rivalry, which will be ratcheted up a notch this Saturday during the Panther/Pack Invitational at Augusta Aquatics Center.
"It used to be just Lakeside and Evans," said Wells, who was a star swimmer at Lakeside and went on to compete at Auburn.
"The rivalry is pretty much across the board now," he continued. "The swim team has always had good support at Lakeside, now it's the same for Evans and Greenbrier, which is a good thing."
The Panther/Pack starts at 10 a.m., and 325 to 350 swimmers and divers from prep squads throughout Georgia are expected to compete.
Lakeside swept the Invitational last year, as the Panthers and Lady Panthers each earned their first-ever wins at the Panther/Pack. Evans placed second in the girls and boys standings.
The Greenbrier boys, meanwhile, placed fourth last year, and the Lady Pack finished sixth.
So far this season, the Lakeside boys have been the top local swim team, but Evans and Greenbrier have been in hot pursuit. Although the Panthers have prevailed against their county foes in previous meetings, the scores have been very close.
"We're all pretty even," Wells admitted.
The Panthers are coming off a second-place showing last weekend at the Clark-Oconee Invitational, which featured 41 teams, so Lakeside might have the upper hand heading into the Panther/Pack.
The Lady Panthers, meanwhile, should contend for the title based on numbers alone. There are as many girls on the Lakeside team as the Evans and Greenbrier girls' squads combined.
There will be more at stake than local bragging rights.
With the 2002-03 season winding down, the Panther/Pack also provides swimmers an opportunity to post qualifying times for the state championships, which will be next month.
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