Of the roughly 50 swimmers on Lakeside High School's team, it was two seniors the rest looked to for motivation.
Ellen Schafer and Taylor Capers were named swimmers of the year Tuesday night at the CSRA swimming and diving championships. Davidson's Laurie Montgomery was named coach of the year. Lakeside won both team titles at the Augusta Aquatics Center.
The Lakeside boys finished with 512 points, 61 more than second-place Greenbrier, and the girls earned 538 points, 10 more than Greenbrier.
Schafer won the 50-yard freestyle and swam on two winning relays. Capers swam for a winning relay and was second to Evans' Ben Miller in the 200-yard freestyle.
"Hands down, they have had four years of consistent and exceptional performance," Lakeside coach Andrew Bauer said. "(They) are both at practice every day, practice 12 months out of the year, and show up to every meet with great team spirit.
"When you've got a senior male and a senior female that both strive for excellence, everyone else will follow. It's nice to have; I hope I can have it again next year."
Schafer is part of a 28-member girls team that is excelling because of its depth and two particularly outstanding performers.
Schafer, who will swim at either Emory University in Atlanta or Washington University in St. Louis, has qualified for the state meet in six of the eight individual events. (Swimmers can only enter two individual events and two relays.) Sophomore Katherine Huff, who as a freshman won state titles in the 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke against more experienced swimmers, will be counted on to produce two more state titles in that meet Feb. 10-13.
"I can easily see her one day representing the U.S. in the Olympics," Bauer said.
The Panthers girls finished ninth in the state last year and expect to improve on that performance this year.
"We've got kids that are good at all four strokes," Bauer said. "In football, you have a quarterback; all he does is throw the ball. ... In swimming, on the girls side, I've got someone that can play every position, so to speak, and do it at a state level."
Said Schafer, "Every swimmer on the team is consistent."
The Lakeside boys, third in the state a year ago in a performance aided by current Georgia Tech swimmer Eric Chiu, repeated as area champion. Capers said he gained confidence being that go-to boys swimmer this year, pacing the team to another title.
"I felt like I was that guy this year, and that (has) helped me a lot," he said.
The Augusta Chronicle staff writer Matt Middleton contributed to this report.
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