LHS boys sweep relays
The Liberty Hurricane boys swept all three relay events at the District XI Class 3A Swimming Championships on Saturday and Sunday at Emmaus High School when Jase Smith, Chris Chambers, Jake Evert, and Robert Negron won gold medals in the 200 medley relay, the 200 free relay, and the 400 free relay.
In the first event on Saturday, the Hurricanes broke the district record in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:33.84.
“I was hyped up, ready to go,” said Smith, who swam last. “We had a great lead thanks to the other three guys, and I can’t even remember it, honestly. The only thing that ran through my mind was hand speed and foot speed. Touching the wall, and seeing the time, and the boys were going crazy. It felt amazing.”
Even better for the Hurricanes was the 200 free relay with a time of 1:23.46, also on Saturday.
“It was a little bit closer, but we did have a lead, and I felt really good coming off my 50, and again, I was ready to go,” Smith said. “I did it without thinking and put up an even better time than my medley. When Robert touched the wall, and seeing the 1:23, I was going insane. We shattered our school record, the district record, and the pool record here. That was probably the most exciting event I had these two days.”
On Sunday, the second and last day of districts, nerves started to be felt, similar to the days leading up to the district meet.
“It was stressful,” said Liberty coach Reik Foust. “The guys become irritable, but Jeff, Evan, myself, we try to keep everyone even keel, talk it out, and try to keep everyone with what our goals are.”
In Smith’s case on Sunday, he reached out to his teammates before the 400 free relay, the last event at districts.
“The support I got from Robert, Jake, and Chris, they knew I was nervous, but they saw me do extremely well the last two days, and they were like, ‘Jase, if you can pull out these times you did yesterday, you will be absolutely amazing in the water,’” Smith said, as the relay team swam a 3:07.12.
After tossing it around in his head, Smith happened to be talking to Evert.
“And I asked him, ‘How do you feel?’ and he said, ‘Happy.’ I was like, all right. How did you swim the 100? And he said, ‘You’ve just got to swim it like it’s for fun.’
“That’s something I’ve never done. I always try to get hyped up, almost angry before a meet or a race, but I decided to just be,” Smith paused, “happy. Listen to happy tunes, calm myself down, and it really helped ease the nerves, and I put up a great time for my split. My nerves were non-existent by the time I dove in. I thought, I’ve got a lead from Robert, I’ve got myself, and I can do it. To be able to drop so much time and break another school record, and sweeping all three relays was just amazing.”
Smith and Negron all but collapsed after their swims in the 400 free relay, practically crawling out of the pool.
“I’m proud of everybody,” said Coach Foust. “The relays did really well, obviously, but everyone came in, and they swam best times throughout the whole team, so it was a lot of fun that way. The kids worked hard for it. They came in expecting a lot. They set the bar high.”
Smith, Chambers, Evert, and Negron will compete at the PIAA State Swimming Championships next week at Bucknell University.