Girls Swim and Dive Wins Second Consecutive State Competition

Girls Swim and Dive dominates state competition to become back-to-back state champions


Seniors Bradie Ward and Samantha Packard hold the 6A first place trophy with their teammates around them. As of this Saturday, both Packard and Ward are back-to-back state champions. Photo contributed by Free State Swim and Dive.

Thomas Patton

Girls swim and dive secured back-to-back state titles on Saturday, May 20. The team held first place from start to finish, winning by 132 points over the next closest team.

The team never strayed away from the podium. In every event, at least one Free State swimmer was in the top three, with seven of those finishes being in first place. Senior Bradie Ward spoke about the success and the feeling of ending her high school career as a two-time state champion.

“Winning by over 100 points meant so much because we knew it was our last chance to show Kansas what we were made of, and I feel like we ended it with a big bang,” Ward said. “Winning not only represented us but it represented the whole school.”

While becoming back-to-back state champions is a massive accomplishment, the team had extra motivation heading into state. With head coach Annette McDonald set to retire at the end of the year, the team set their sights on not just winning for themselves but adding one more major accomplishment to her legacy and letting her retire at the top. Junior Liza Engelbrecht mentioned how important it was for the team to win for coach McDonald.

“All of us are extremely happy we won back to back state titles,” Engelbrecht said. “It was very important for us to give our all and win this title for coach McDonald. She is leaving an amazing legacy behind and we will all miss her.” 

Along with McDonald winning her fourth state title in girls swim and dive, she was honored with her third 6A coach of the year award. With these final marks on her outstanding career, McDonald expressed how proud she was of her swimmers to bring the trophy home. 

“Every race was fast, had the best times, and everyone stepped up and did their job,” McDonald said. “It was all a team effort. They did a fantastic job and it was a great way to end my career.”