Local Sports

Raising the bar

Lake Placid swimmers will be the first to tell you, Annie Weber-Callahan is the consumate teammate.

Even with all the individual accolades she's garnered in her three-year career with the Green Dragons, she's helped cultivate an intense family atmosphere among her fellow swimmers.

"This young lady excels in all she does," Lake Placid girls swim coach Tom Creel said. "She's always asking what can she do for the team, in and out of the water, and she gives her best at all times."

"Annie sets the standards that make swimming such a positive program in the Heartland."

After a sophomore campaign for the ages in 2012, Callahan added to her impressive resume with another stellar season this year. At the Class 1A-District 6 championship meet, she won the 100-yard freestyle (57.70) event and finished third in the 50 freestyle (26.48). In the relay races, she helped the 200 freestyle (1:49.34) team finish second.

She continued to excel at the regional meet, where she finished 13th in the 50 free (26.49) and 11th in the 100 free (57.82), while pushing the 400 freestyle relay team to a fourth-place finish (4:00.88).

For her achievements and commitment to her teammates, Weber-Callahan has been selected as the Highlands Today 2013 All-Highlands Girls Swimmer of the Year.

"It means everything to me," Weber-Callahan said.

"It's a reward for getting up every day and going to morning practice. It's just awesome."

Not one to leave other Dragons out of the spotlight, Weber-Callahan issued a special thank-you to teammate Claire LeBlanc.

"Claire just pushed me so hard to be a better swimmer and a better person," she said. "She's helped me so much."

Creel got similar treatment.

"He's the best coach in the world," Weber-Callahan said. "I used to be the manager of the swim team when I was in middle school, and he really helped get me into the sport."

As for the rest of her teammates, Weber-Callahan thinks of them as family.

"I don't know what makes us all click," she said. "Coach Creel is there to help us bond, but we do it on our own, too. We go crazy and cheer when one of us is in the pool - I think I can even hear them when I'm underwater. We're just one big family."

The Team

Kasey Williams, senior, Lake Placid - A member of both the Dragons and Heartland swim teams, Williams was part of the foundation that made Lake Placid's swimming program so successful over the last four years.

"She's an integral part of this team," Creel said. "She is a fine athlete and a true leader."

Hannah Farr, junior, Avon Park - Farr excelled in the 100 breaststroke, setting a personal record of 1:19.26 during the season. She also represented the Red Devils in the Class 2A-Region 3 meet in the 500 freestyle. Farr was an integral part of the 200 medley relay team that broke a high school record.

"She was great at meeting the goals she set for herself this season," Avon Park swim coach Tracy Lee said.

"The past two years she has advanced to the regional meets, and she just seems to glide through the water."

Gabi Dion, junior, Sebring - Dion had a stellar season in the pool. Her specialty was the backstroke, and she placed third in the Class 2A-District 9 championship meet, 13th at regionals, and managed a 12th-place finish in districts in the 200 IM.

"She's so skilled and precise," Sebring swim coach Pat Caton said.

"A really dynamic swimmer that's always cooperative."

Shelby Allcorn, senior, Lake Placid - One of Creel's most prized four-year swimmers, Allcorn was well respected for her warm personality and tenacious attidue in the pool.

Rachel Gaidos, junior, Avon Park - Gaidos had an outstanding year for the Wet Devils. She focused on the 500 freestyle and 200 IM, completing the former in 7:08.88 in the regional meet. She also dropped her time to 3:15 in the 200 IM.

Dominique Juliano, senior, Sebring - A standout in the butterfly and breaststroke events, Juliano capped her Blue Streaks swimming career with another stellar season. She was also voted co-captain by her teammates.

Katie Dye, freshman, Lake Placid - Despite being a mere freshman, Dye had every intention of adding to the legacy of Lake Placid's swimming program.

"She came here ready to be great," Creel said. "She'll be key in helping to keep Lake Placid a strong program in the Heartland."

Kasey Starling, junior, Avon Park - A perennial contender in any butterfly event, Starling had set a personal record in the 100 butterfly of 1:22. She was also part of the medley relay team that broke the school record with a remarkable time of 2:19.99.

"She has a beautiful butterfly stroke," Lee said. "She makes this difficult stroke look so graceful, and she's always willing to help others learn the technique."

Kaitlyn Smith, sophomore, Sebring - There's one thing Smith knows, and that's speed. She was one of the fastest swimmers the Streaks had this season.

"She was fast," Caton said. "And she just got faster and faster. By season's end, she was probably the fastest swimmer we had."

Claire LeBlanc, senior, Lake Placid - The Dragons' team captain, LeBlanc was one of the strongest beams of support for Lake Placid.

"We are so proud of this young lady," Creel said. "She has shown tremendous support for the swim team."

Mikael Talley, junior, Avon Park - One of the busiest swimmers the Wet Devils had, Talley was featured in many races due to her ability to swim the 200 IM and backstroke. She also appeared in a handful of relay races. In the 100 backstroke, she set a PR of 1:17.02.

"She stays busy swimming," Lee said. "She advanced to the regional competition in Clearwater in the 200 IM and had a time of 3:01.

She was another one of the girls who helped break the Avon Park relay record."

Cassidy Hitt, junior, Sebring - There was never a bar set too high for Hitt. She was always a threat to win the freestyle and backstroke events.

"She was a feisty Blue Streak swimmer and always represented Sebring well," Caton said.

"Hitt always did what she was asked to do. She's dedicated and strives to improve."

Hali Pollard, sophomore, Lake Placid - A two-year swimmer who always gave her best effort in the pool, Pollard was known for her indomitable work ethic and always giving maximum effort.

Roxanne Guerndt, senior, Avon Park - The captain of this year's Wet Devils squad, Guerndt was best in the 400 freestyle relay, and competed in the regional meet at Clearwater.

Rachel Todd, sophomore, Sebring - Despite her underclassman status, Todd was one of the most encouraging and focused swimmers the Streaks had.

Courtney Sapp, freshman, Lake Placid - A talented freshman swimmer for the Dragons, Sapp was a perennial face in the 100 backstroke and the 200 medley relay events.

"She has so much talent and growth on the horizon," Creel said. "It will be exciting to watch as she devleops her skills and talent."

Ashlee Carnahan, freshman, Avon Park - Another component of the 400 freestyle relay team that set a new school record, Carnahan is one of many Avon Park freshman phenoms.

Her positivity was greatly appreciated by coaches.

"She started swimming at summer camps and has excelled from day one," Lee said.

"We're looking forward to see what she will do in the future."

Camille Shattler, freshman, Lake Placid - A freshman with no prior swim experience, Creel commended Shattler for showing intense desire to improve every time she get in the water.

Jaydee Hannah Grice, freshman, Avon Park - Another newbie to the swim and dive team, but a vaulable asset. Grice was a member of the 400 freestyle relay team that advanced to the regional meet.

Rachel Shattler, freshman, Lake Placid - No stranger to the Dragons or the Heartland swim teams, Shattler continued to be a force in 50 and 100 breaststroke.

Tammy Hutchins, freshman, Avon Park - Hutchins was just as good in the pool as she was on the diving board. She was an integral part of the 200 IM team that broke a longstanding school record, and seems to have no fear in taking on the challenging world of high school swimming.

"She's always taking one for the team, either in the lane or on the diving board," Lee said.

"And once she sets her eyes on a challenge, she's determined to come out on top."

Eden Taylor, junior, Lake Placid - A standout on both the Dragons and Heartland swim teams, Taylor was known for outstanding work ethic and leadership skills.

"She continues to be a powerful force for the Green Dragons," Creel said.

Robbye Teal, junior, Lake Placid - Another athlete pulling double duty as both a swimmer and diver, Teal was an integral part of the Dragons relay teams.

"She's a fantastic swimmer and also a fantastic leader," Creel said. "She's a great example of what makes this program excel."

Honorable Mention

Missy Barajas, senior, Lake Placid; Ali Blackman, senior, Sebring; Callie Bobo, senior, Lake Placid; Jennai Hagen, freshman, Sebring; Madison Bush, freshman, Lake Placid; Katie LeBlanc, freshman, Lake Placid; Phoebe Phypers, freshman, Lake Placid

Coach of the Year - For overseeing a myriad of Lake Placid girls into the regional meet this season, Tom Creel has been selected as the Highlands Today All-Highlands Girls Swim Coach of the Year.


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