By Chris Parsons
BARBOURVILLE — The Stivers Aquatic and Wellness Center was as busy as it has ever been this past Friday and Saturday, hosting the KHSAA Region 5 swim meet.
In all, there were 21 teams in attendance, all fighting for a chance to compete at the state level Feb. 21-23 when they all converge at the University of Louisville’s Ralph Wright Natatorium.
Tournament Director Paul Dole said organizers were pleased, but surprised with the turnout.
“We knew the event would go over well here and it turned out we were right,” Dole said. “We have a really good number of teams and they’ve brought a lot of fans with them to watch.”
As for local teams, Knox Central, Barbourville, South and North Laurel High Schools represented the Tri-County, though they didn’t fare as well as they would have liked to.
Individually, Barbourville’s Alexander Phipps was the star of the show locally, finishing a very close second in the 50-yard Freestyle and 100-yard Freestyle.
How close? In the 50-yard Freestyle, Phipps’ 22.04 was just .06 seconds back of first place finisher Travis Johnson of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.
The 100-yard Freestyle was almost as close, with Phipps finishing with a 48.38, just .13 seconds behind Henry Clay’s Andrew Freibert.
To put that in perspective, Phipps missed two region titles by a grand total of .19 seconds, but the good news is that he qualifies for the state meet in these events.
Knox Central’s Jessica Pope qualified for the finals in the Girls 100-yard Freestyle with a time of 56.44, but she was unable to improve on her time in the finals, posting a 56.70 to grab eighth place in the event.
As for the team finishes, on the girls’ side of things, Knox Central finished 16th, while North Laurel and South Laurel tied for 19th and Barbourville grabbed 21st.
As for the boys, Barbourville tied for 13th with George Rogers Clark (34 points each), while North Laurel grabbed 18th and South Laurel was 19th.