Danville sends eight to state swim/dive meet

Danville hasn’t had many girls qualify individually for the state meet.

Two qualified this year.

The Admirals sent eight to state, and head coach John Anderson said he was proud of the way his team rose to the challenge on the biggest stage.

“We went up there and did really good, had lots of good showings,” Anderson said. “That’s the best our team has looked at that next level, I think. We’ve been doing really good at the region level and now it’s, ‘how do we keep doing better at that state meet?’”

Elisabeth Nesmith and Haley Akers are the two seniors who have anchored the Admirals’ squad for years.

“Elisabeth Nesmith, I think about it all the time, ‘is she the best swimmer that Danville has ever had?’ She’s definitely the best that I’ve been around, and I’ll say most decorated,” Anderson said. “She’s on three school records, had the breaststroke record till Grace (Crawford) broke it. Elisabeth and Haley both, they’re on some relays and they each have an individual. Elisabeth has the 100 freestyle record, Haley has the backstroke record. We knew on senior night what we were losing, but now that we’re through the state meet, you’re starting to look like, ‘now, what do we do?’”

Nesmith and Haley Akers teamed up with Lara Akers and Grace Crawford to place 26th in the girls 200 yard medley relay. In the 200 yard freestyle relay, Danville (Jenna Akers, Lara Akers, Morgan Vest, Nesmith) placed 26th again. Nesmith finished 34th in the girls 100 yard freestyle.

Anderson said Haley Akers and Nesmith have left a strong impression on the younger swimmers.

“The cool thing about having swimmers like that is people will tell their stories: ‘Hey, remember when Elisabeth Nesmith did this?’ I know some of these swimmers about these two,” he said. “We’ve had some really good relays with those girls.”

Danville’s highest placement came on the boys’ side: Jaxxyn Wood placed 11th in the boys’ diving competition. Keegyn Wilcher placed 37th in the same event.

Wood’s placement gave Danville boys six points to place 31st.

“That’s our highest placing, that actually tied our boys for 31st in the state with Tates Creek,” Anderson said. “We scored six points. It says Danville but it should say Jaxxyn Wood.”

Anderson said after the state meet has been bittersweet: He knows that Haley Akers and Nesmith have bright futures ahead, but replacing them will be a challenge.

“They really are two of the best swimmers that Danville’s girls have ever seen,” he said. “Losing those two girls, our relays will change. Hopefully some new girls come into the fold, but I think we can still make a pretty good relay. But losing the best freestyler the school has ever had in Elisabeth, that’s going to be tough to replace. Losing Haley, she had a really good race for that backstroke record. That was a surprise for Haley, she’s had an awesome career. She had a really good state meet for three years.”

Haley Akers has two siblings — Jenna and Lara — who each qualified for state on a relay this year as freshmen.

“That’s the thing about being a swimmer with siblings, your whole family grows up swimming in the summer. That’s what it was like for me with my sister swimming in Dart Sharks,” Anderson said. “With (Haley), their family grew up at the country club. They’re growing up swimming and now they’re swimming high school together.”

Anderson also noted Crawford will be a key piece in the team next season as a senior. She placed 40th in the girls 100 yard breaststroke at state.

“I’ve got to mention Grace Crawford, she’ll be a senior next year but she had one of the best seasons that a Danville swimmer has had,” he said. “She does one thing really well, and it’s swimming the breaststroke. She had an amazing year for us, a complete year. From start to finish she has been awesome.”