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James Island, Payton Wilson, Academic Magnet Cooper Pitts Led All The Lowcountry Swim Team

Payton Wilson James island and academic magnet Cooper Pitts, postal and courier 2014 of all high school athletes Lowcountry a year, have a lot in common.

Both athletes are among the top performers in the state. Both are state champions in two events. Both are currently in their junior year of high school, and both take their responsibilities as high school swimmers just as seriously as they do their participation on the club and summer league levels.

Wilson captured Class AAAA state championships in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle - her first two individual gold medals on the prep level. She was part of a relay team that won a state title during her sophomore season, but winning individual gold is a much bigger accomplishment.

"It was awesome to do it," said Wilson.

"It took a lot of hard work and training and to finally do it made me feel like the work was worth it."

Wilson began competitive swimming at 6 years old and began to take it seriously during middle school. Swimming now consumes her athletic life as she trains and competes on a year-round basis.

"It's my life and I hope to be able to swim in college," she said. "I guess I might take a total of a month off during the year. I'm always training in the pool or trying to get stronger with weights and workouts."

Like athletes in other sports, Wilson competes in club and summer leagues against top competition from around the state. However, she gets the most enjoyment out of competing with her high school teammates.

"Oh, I take high school swimming very seriously," she said. "I don't let up at all when it comes to the high school season. I love competing with my classmates. We have a great team chemistry. A lot of us swim in club together and we love competing for the state championship for our school."

Pitts also enjoys the high school swim season, calling it "the most fun I have in swimming."

Pitts won state championships in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard breaststroke in the Class AAA/AA/A meet in October. He repeated as the state champion in the breaststroke event.

"The high school season is all about having fun and it's a great start to the year (of swimming)," he said. "I'm a competitive person and the high school state meet is so much fun for me because of the competition. I definitely enjoy competing against guys from the bigger schools and against the best in the state."

Pitts began swimming around the age of 5 and became a year-round performer in the sixth grade. He says he tried baseball when he was younger but found that swimming was his true calling.

"I guess I was better at swimming and the more I swam, the bigger part of my life it became," says Pitts. "The more I got involved in the summer leagues and the club stuff in the winter, the more I just wanted to work more and more. I take a little break just before the school season starts, but I feel better when I am training and competing."

Pitts is hopeful that he can earn a scholarship to college for swimming but realizes there is a lack of abundant scholarship money available. That will not deter his efforts.

"I definitely would love to swim on the Division I level, but I know there is a lot of competition for few scholarships," says Pitts, who is considering a major in chemistry or another science-related field of study. "It's my goal right now so I will work as hard as I can."

The coach of the year is First Baptist's Sara Kraft, who led her boys and girls teams to SCISA state titles.

ALL-LOWCOUNTRY SWIM TEAM

BOYS

Cooper Pitts, Academic Magnet, Junior, 200 IM, 100 breaststroke

Ryan Laban, West Ashley, Senior, 200 free, 500 free

Emmanual Emovon, Wando, Junior, 50 free

Noah Brazier, Fort Dorchester, Junior, 100 butterfly

Carter Brzezinski, Academic Magnet, Junior, 100 free

Casey Buck, West Ashley, Senior, 100 backstroke

Honorable Mention

Daniel Coury, West Ashley; Jackson Seith, Fort Dorchester; Nick Wukovits, Wando; Ballard DeHaven, Fort Dorchester; Owen Navarro, Academic Magnet; John Pavlides, Academic Magnet; Kaiser Rich, First Baptist; Jakob Obenhaus, First Baptist; Michael Seager, Pinewood Prep; Lucas Langston, First Baptist; Ethan Madden, First Baptist; Quinn Mann, First Baptist.

GIRLS

Peyton Wilson, James Island Charter, Junior, 50 free, 100 free

Hannah Craig, James Island Charter, Senior, 200 free

Rebeccca Groves, Wando, Junior, 200 IM

Elaine Zhou, Academic Magnet, Junior, 100 butterfly, 100 breaststroke

Logan Kraft, First Baptist, Senior, 500 free

Victoria Conley, Wando, Sophomore, 100 backstroke

Honorable Mention

Allison Burton, Wando; Mary Alice Dupree, James Island; Laura Brotherton, Wando; Ashleigh Bennett, West Ashley; Ansley Jones, Ashley Ridge; Carrie Hillebrand, Wando; Jane Bunting, Wando; Cassidy Rindge, Academic Magnet; Emma Crowfoot, Academic Magnet; Julia Zimlich, Academic Magnet; Kaila Pardus, Porter-Gaud; Elysse Pardus, Porter-Gaud; Caroline Clark, Ashley Hall; Madison Lackey, First Baptist; Kelsey Kraft, First Baptist; Ashley Thornal, Berkeley; Callie Johnson, Ashley Hall; Kylee Keenan, Palmetto Christian; Grace Arredondo, First Baptist.Source:postandcourier.com

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