CORVALLIS — In the days leading up to the entry deadline for the Mid-Willamette Conference district swimming championships, Dallas senior Jolie-Rae Ford wasn’t sure what to swim.
She settled on the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events, and put on a strong showing on Friday and Saturday. Ford qualified for state in both events — setting new school records in the process.
Ford finished the 50 freestyle in 25.07 seconds, breaking the record previously held by Jerusha Dressel. Ford broke her own mark in the 100 freestyle with a time of 54.15.
“It was pretty cool,” Ford said. “I’ve known I could get them for a while now. When I finally did set them, it was really great. I’m excited about that.”
Ford is seeded fifth in the 50 freestyle and third in the 100 freestyle at the swimming state championships on Friday and Saturday at Mt. Hood Community College Aquatic Center in Gresham.
“I don’t really know if I have any expectations,” Ford said. “I’m really excited to see what will come of it.”
Ford is no stranger to the sprint distances in the freestyle but required a different kind of preparation than the distance events.
“In a sprint, if you mess up, you don’t have the time to make that up,” Ford said. “You have to be a little more focused on what you’re doing and when you’re doing it.”
Dallas coach David Morelli said with little time separating the state qualifiers, anyone can win. The devil will be in the details.
“Unlike the longer distances, the qualifying times in sprints are within tenths of a second of each other,” Morelli said. “Anything can happen. This makes the start and turn important. In distance, the focus was on pace. In sprints, the starts and turns have to be perfect.”
Ford was the Dragons’ lone state qualifier, but Morelli was pleased with the effort from all his swimmers.
Senior Ryan Kennedy finished fifth in the boys 500 freestyle and seventh in the 200 freestyle.
“It was a good finish for him and a successful high school career,” Morelli said.
Freshman Gabe Applegate took seventh in the boys 100 butterfly, and freshman Isaiah Dressel made the consolation finals to take 15th in the 50 freestyle.
Tyler Boggs took 13th in the 50 and 100 freestyle, and freshman Christopher Campione took 15th in the 100 backstroke.
“I think all the new swimmers returning have a greater understanding on what it takes to be successful in swimming,” Morelli said. “They worked hard and their dedication paid off with their best times at districts.”