A combined middle school team of Heritage and Ringgold swimmers represented Catoosa County in a meet against McCallie and GPS at GPS on Oct. 30.

Although the two Chattanooga area private schools would go on to win the meet, the local swimmers from northwest Georgia held their own with numerous top six finishes, including four event victories.

Three of the wins came on the girls' side. The team of Heritage's Mariana Easley, Emma Williams, Lisa Afonshina and Emma Pulliam took first in the 200-yard freestyle relay, clocking in at 1:58.85. Pulliam also won the 100 backstroke (1:13.29) and easily took first in the 100 breaststroke (1:22.83).

The other victory was turned in by Ringgold Middle School swimmer Kirill Ledbed, who clocked in at 27.27 seconds to win the boys' 50-yard freestyle race.

Pulliam, Afonshina, Easley and Jayden Jones were second in the 200 medley relay (2:09.38). Easley also took second in the 200 individual medley (2:40.44), Pulliam was second in the 50 freestyle (27.77) and Afonshina was second in the 100 butterfly (1:11.35).

Third-place finishers included Jones in the 200 freestyle (2:47.59), Afonshina in the 50 freestyle (28.50), Williams in the 100 backstroke (1:29.01), Anna Bradford in the 100 freestyle (1:20.23), Lily Marshall in the 100 butterfly (1:34.35), the team of Marshall, Bradford, Jones and Jaslin Pack in the 200 freestyle relay (2:24.46) and Ringgold's Lilly Cappellazzo in the 100 breaststroke (1:39.79).

Pack picked up fourth-place points in the 100 freestyle (1:20.62). Williams was fifth in the 50 freestyle (31.74), as was the team of Bradford, Williams, Marshall and Pack in the 200 medley relay (2:44.29).

Cappellazzo finished sixth in the 50 freestyle (32.98), Marshall was sixth in the 100 backstroke (1:53.17) and Zoe Brown of Heritage placed sixth in the 100 breaststroke (1:58.77).

On the boys' side, the team of Heritage swimmers Askar Aitov, Alexander Grayson, Levi Cragle and Hayden Scheeler finished second in the 200 freestyle relay in a time of 2:16.11. Grayson was second in the 100 backstroke (1:24.68), while Ledbed was second in the 100 breaststroke (1:26.45).

Aitov, Ledbed, Grayson and Scheeler also teamed up to place third in the 200 medley relay (2:23.43). Cragle was fourth in the 100 individual medley (3:09.34) and in the 100 freestyle (1:17.31), while other fourth-place finishers included Scheeler in the 50 freestyle (30.76) and Aitov in the 100 backstroke (1:30.27).

Grayson was fifth in the 100 breaststroke (1:43.07), Scheeler took fifth in the 100 freestyle (1:19.15) and Aitov was sixth in the 50 freestyle (33.91).

The Catoosa team will compete on Wednesday as they take on Baylor and Notre Dame in a meet at the Baylor School in Chattanooga, starting at 5 p.m.

Scott Herpst is sports editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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