Conklin qualified for regionals in 2 events for CHS; four more make the all-area team
For the second year in a row, a Conklin has been named the Lake City Reporter’s Swimmer of the Year.
Columbia junior Mackenzie Conklin earns the honor in 2019 after her brother, Evan Conklin, received the nod following his 2018 campaign at CHS.
Mackenzie was the only swimmer in the area to make regionals this fall, qualifying for the second consecutive year.
“It’s a huge honor,” Conklin said of the Reporter’s recognition. “I really worked hard and put in a lot of time during the offseason to become a better swimmer, so it means a lot to end the year on this note.”
Conklin punched her ticket to regionals with a strong showing at the District 2-3A meet, placing 12th in the 500 freestyle (5:31.28) and 14th in the 200 freestyle (2:08.03). She also competed in the 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay.
Her time in the 500 freestyle was a new personal best, which came two days after her career-best mark in another sport.
“I feel like I performed well in districts. I dropped my time in the 500, which was really good. I’ve been really trying to get that for awhile,” said Conklin, a dual-sport athlete at CHS. “What made me even happier was that I PR’d on Monday after I also got my best time in my 5K on Saturday at regionals for cross country.”
Despite her milestone in the 500, Conklin wasn’t sure if it would be enough to advance to regionals. She had to wait on the official word.
“At first, I honestly did not think I was going to make it with the rearranging of the districts and how I placed,” Conklin said. “So I was very excited when I found out I advanced to regionals.”
Conklin placed 19th in the 500 freestyle (5:28.81) and 20th in the 200 freestyle (2:08.47) at the Region 1-3A meet. She enjoyed the experience and felt at home when she hit the water.
“We did regionals at the Northeast Pool in Gainesville. I swim currently with the Gator Swim Club year round, so that’s actually the pool I practice at three days a week,” Conklin said. “It was kind of like home-field advantage, as they say in football. I knew how it felt there.”
Conklin has been a member of the Gator Swim Club for five years. She credits the club as well as Columbia coach Lindsay Brinkley for developing her as a swimmer.
“Coach Lindsay has taught me so much and helped me improve, especially this year,” Conklin said. “She has also been very supportive of me swimming with Gator Swim Club. It’s nice she lets me do that as well as my running, and she makes sure that my schedule works out with the meets and practices.
“So I really appreciate her, along with all of my teammates. What I’ll remember most about this year are the friendships I made throughout the team, having fun at the swim meets and dropping my times.”
Jaden Drew, Columbia
Swam individually in the 50 freestyle and100 freestyle while participating in the 200 medley relay.
Ally Mitchell, Columbia
Swam individually in the 200 IM and100 backstroke while participating in the 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay.
Abby Schuler, Columbia
Swam individually in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle while participating in the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay.
Haden Slater, Columbia
Was the team’s boys MVP, swimming in the 200 IM, 500 freestyle, 200 medley relay and 400 free relay.