Revenge is a dish best served ... in warm water.
Last month, Free State High’s swim team hosted a meet and finished one spot behind city rival Lawrence High — and that was big news for both sides.
Free State coach Annette McDonald said she could not recall a time when the Lions had defeated the Firebirds during her eight-year tenure there.
So Thursday evening, Free State set out to regain its foothold on the rivalry.
The Firebirds did just that, finishing second to Lawrence’s third at the second Free State Invitational this year at the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center. FSHS finished with 385 points and LHS 311 points. Shawnee Mission North won the four-team meet with 439 points.
“Beating LHS is always a big goal every meet,” Firebirds senior Julian McCafferty said. “We were pretty upset about last time. We’re glad to be on top this time.”
Don’t be fooled, though. This is about as friendly a rivalry as they come. These are two teams, after all, that swim against each other at practically every meet. They’ve swum together at all four meets thus far and will do so again on Saturday at the Shawnee Mission Northwest Invitational.
“Our guys were cheering on their guys, and we clapped for the divers when they were doing really well,” McDonald said. “But at the same time, it’s like you want to win, you want to do your best.”
Free State’s team received a significant boost on Thursday from the last home meet one month ago. Logan Sloan and Kain Anderson — both cross country runners for the Firebirds — joined the swim team late and have made the squad more dangerous.
“You gotta admit, they’re a big force on the team,” McDonald said. “Both have just added to the team dynamic, and they’re fun. They’ve meshed with the team. They cheer each other on, so it’s really nice.”
Sloan competed in the 500-yard free for the first time and still managed a first-place finish and state consideration time of 5:33.81. He said the race, Thursday’s longest event, posed more of a challenge than cross country because it did not come as naturally.
“Swimming is a sport that I do to benefit my running, but I also want to contribute to my school,” Sloan said. “I just do it for fun.”
Free State also earned state consideration times in the 200 medley relay, 200 free relay and 400 free relay. Nolan Frank earned first place in the 100 back and McCafferty swam a personal best 52.88 in the 100 free to earn state consideration as well.
For LHS, freshman Zach Andregg provided the afternoon’s biggest highlight. Andregg beat the state qualifying time by more than two seconds in the 200-yard free, finishing in 1:53.35. That pushed Andregg’s state event tally to three. He qualified last month in the 500 free and 200 IM and is attempting a fourth state invite in the 100 fly.
Lions coach Kent McDonald noted Andregg’s attitude as one of his best attributes.
“He is a leader, but he also knows he’s a freshman,” Kent McDonald said. “He’s not acting like he’s a big dog. The other guys know he’s fast. He’s real low key about it and jokes around. It’s really a good atmosphere.”
Also for LHS, Lions senior Will Pendleton earned state consideration, finishing first in the 50 free in 24.25 seconds. The Lions earned state consideration in the 200 medley relay and both the 200 and 400 free relays.