KINGSPORT — The Tennessee state high school swimming and diving meet, which began Saturday, looks a lot different when compared to “normal” years.

The meet — which usually takes place in Knoxville — is being held at four sites: Kingsport, Chattanooga, Nashville and Tupelo, Mississippi. The results from each site will be merged to determine the state champions in each event and the team title.

The Northeast region consisted of local and Knoxville-area teams all swimming for glory at the Kingsport Aquatic Center.

To lead off the afternoon boys session, Science Hill’s 200-yard medley relay team of Dustin Niebauer, Matthew Potter, Nolan Hill and Logan Smith blistered a 1:37.34 en route to a six-second win.

“I thought those four men did a really good job of setting the tone for the rest of the meet,” Science Hill coach Chris Coraggio said. “We’ve been working on starts, and I thought they nailed that today.

“When you get to this level, it’s all about getting as many points as possible. And as far as that short, 20-minute turnaround that Dustin and Matthew had to the 200 free, that’s what you train for — to go back-to-back events.”

Potter and Niebauer also placed third and fifth, respectively, in the 200 freestyle.

Dobyns-Bennett had a strong day, boosted by runner-up finishes from RJ Brumit in the 50 freestyle (22.12) and Johnathan Lai in the 100 butterfly (52.14).

“I think I’ll be top 16, so I’ll get a medal. I really wasn’t happy with my swim because I had a wrist injury on Wednesday, and I’ve been working through it,” Lai said. “That was a good swim for having a swim injury because I was only two-tenths (of a second) off of my best.”

The different structure of the meet isn’t lost on the competitors.

“Sleeping in my own bed is great and it’s a very homey feeling, but I definitely like the traveling aspect,” Lai said. “I like going to other pools and venues. It’s really an experience more than anything and you know that once you get to that level, you’re with the big dogs.”

D-B’s Joe Neglia and Jack Allen came in sixth and eighth, respectively, in the 200 individual medley, and Science Hill’s Luke Barnes was seventh in the 50 free (22.38).


Dobyns-Bennett’s Libby Russum highlighted the first session of competition by winning the 50 freestyle in 23.73 seconds.

Science Hill’s Cassie Lowe started off her meet with a third place in the 200 freestyle, cutting almost a full second off her time from her two weeks ago.

“I was a little intimidated by some of the others that I swam against, but I know all of them,” Lowe said. “That gave me a sense of relief. I just used them to have a really good race.”

Lowe still has a long way to go before the finish line.

“I’m doing the 500 freestyle and two other relays, so it’s going to be a long day,” Lowe said. “The impact of that is going to be lasting.”

Volunteer’s Ellie McLain had nearly a four-second personal best in the 200 individual medley, finishing seventh in 2:19.10.

“I had a calmness come over me, and I told myself that I was just going to go out there and do my best,” McLain said. “To my surprise, I dropped four seconds and I have never been anywhere around that before.

“Normally, we have to travel and we’re out of our comfort zone. We have to show everyone else what we’re made of, and I wanted to give them a run for their money.”

McLain still has her best event — the 100 breaststroke — to go in Sunday’s competition.

“I’m seeded eighth in this region, and we’re all really close,” McLain said. “Having competition will push me even further, and maybe I’ll drop four seconds in that event, too. At least that’s what I’m hoping.”

Among the day’s highlights were the Lady Indians’ 200 medley relay team of Caroline Caveness, Ava Sherer, Kassidy McGuire and Russum taking third in 1:51.91 and McGuire earning a runner-up finish in the 100 butterfly with a time of 58.22.

You can reach Tanner by email at

Recommended Videos

You can reach Tanner by email at