Saints fare well in season-ending swim meet

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GOLDSBORO - West Johnston and Fike emerged as the front runners during the boys’ 200-yard medley relay Wednesday evening.

A dominant force during the regular season, Southern Wayne was third - nearly eight seconds behind WJ after the first two legs.

The order quickly changed.

SW senior Nathan Joyner swam a blistering 20.58 seconds during his two-lap session, which set the table for anchor leg Dylan Daniels. Daniels stayed in front and helped the Saints claim gold in 2 minutes, 2.51 seconds at the 2022 Quad County 3A championship meet.

“I never really have any doubts about the relays with these boys,” said SW head coach Natalie Ira. “They always give their best and dig even deeper when they are a little behind, so I have learned to never count them out.”

The top-place performance was one of three gold-medal efforts posted by the Saints inside B.G. Darden Natatorium. Southern Wayne captured fourth place as a team with 213 points.

Nathan and twin brother, Nolan, won the 100 butterfly and 50 free, respectively. The duo each notched a top-three finish - Nolan logged a runner-up time in the 100 free (57.31), while Nathan ended up third in the 200 free.

Ira said the siblings have worked on tightening their turns and starts throughout the season, and they adjusted Nathan’s butterfly kick to generate more power. Conditioning factored into the outcomes, too.

“Conditioning makes all the difference if you want to be competitive in swimming,” Ira said. “Both of the Joyner have a natural ‘need for speed,’ and work best under pressure. I love watching them race someone who is a bit faster because they will exceed my expectations.”

Junior Drew Bryan was QCC runner-up in the 100 backstroke and wound up fourth in the 200 individual medley.

Bryan, Evin Williams and the Joyners combined for a fourth-place performance in the 200 free relay. Daniels touched the wall fifth in the grueling 500 free, while Williams was sixth in the 100 breast stroke.

Ira gushed over the improvement from Daniels and Williams.

“Both have made huge strides this year,” Ira said. “Dylan has had a lot more pool time this year because he’s improved so much as a sprinter and as a distance swimmer. This is Evin’s first year swimming, but he has done very well and is always looking to improve.

“Neither of these guys ever hesitate, no matter what event I put them in.”

Thomas Weaver competed in the 50 free.

Amber Hutton rebounded from a slow start to finish seventh in the girls’ 100 free.

“This meet just did not show her talents in the best light,” Ira said. “We’ve had another tough year with illness on the team from COVID isolations, the flu and other injuries. But the kids have really worked through it the best they could.”

West Johnston took the boys’ team crown, while Smithfield-Selma ruled the girls’ side.

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