Erin Collins stood on the starting block and watched her team’s chances in the DeKalb County Swimming and Diving Championships slip away.
Collins, the third leg of Lakeside’s 400-yard freestyle relay team, dove into the water in second place behind Dunwoody. Lakeside and Dunwoody entered the final event tied for first, and Collins didn’t want to end her career with a second straight runner-up finish to Dunwoody in the county meet.
At the end of her 100 yards, Collins was ahead of the pack and Lakeside went on to win the event and the county title on Jan. 28, its 14th girls’ championship in the past 15 years. The Lakeside boys also were tied with Dunwoody heading into the final event and won the meet by placing second in the 400 free relay while the Wildcats finished third.
It was the 12th time Lakeside has swept the county meet since its inception in 1971.
“I saw the girl next to me and knew I really needed to get caught up,” Collins said. “That’s what made me go. I wanted to do it for my team.”
Other members of the Lakeside girls’ 400 free relay team were Lizzy White, Alexis Letourneau and Anna Ewing.
Lakeside finished six points ahead of Dunwoody in the girls meet and two points ahead in the boys meet. The Lakeside boys won their ninth consecutive title.
Lakeside’s Cesar Acosta, who was one of four swimmers to win two individual races, swam first on the Vikings 400 free relay team with a personal best of 49.5 seconds for his 100 yards. Acosta was joined on the boys’ relay team by William Pfleger, Matthew Williams and Jason Arne.
“This is the greatest feeling ever,” Acosta said after the race. “We were in the same situation my freshman year, but I didn’t swim in the relay. I really don’t do well under pressure, but [Saturday] I wasn’t nervous. It was something I set my mind on. I just focused and the nerves went away.”
Acosta won the 200 and 500 freestyle events. Other double winners were Cash DeLoache of Tucker (200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke), Mary Kate Leary, Druid Hills (200 freestyle and 100 backstroke) and Dunwoody’s Shawn Pyne (100 and 50 freestyle).
Dunwoody’s boys’ and girls’ teams, the Lakeside girls and the Druid Hills girls each swept the top two places in an individual event.
Leary and Maddie Riggs finished first and second in the 200 freestyle for the Druid Hills girls, which placed third in the team standings. Lakeside’s White and Collins were 1-2 in the 200 intermediate medley.
For the Dunwoody boys, John Hicks and J.B. Young placed 1-2 in the 50 freestyle while Pyne and Bekah Passow were first and second in the girls’ 50 freestyle race.
When it came to the final event of the day, both Lakeside teams had the fastest times leading up to the race. The Lakeside girls had swam nine seconds faster than Dunwoody’s best time, and the Vikings boys’ were more than 17 seconds faster than Dunwoody.
Still, there was plenty of drama in the 400 freestyle relay. In the boys’ race, winner Chamblee, Lakeside and Dunwoody were separated by less than four seconds while the Lakeside girls were four seconds faster than Dunwoody.
“We knew if we didn’t win the race, we wouldn’t win the meet,” said Letourneau, who swam first in the event for the Vikings. “It was really exciting.”