By Rubin E. Grant
If not for his future college teammate, Briarwood Christian senior Mason Mathias would be a three-time state swimming champion.
Mathias finished second in both the boys Class 6A-7A 200-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle behind Daphne junior Drew Jordan in the Alabama High School Athletic Association State Swimming and Diving Championships, held Saturday at the Huntsville Aquatics Center.
Mathias finished the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:39.84, but Jordan touched out with a 6A-7A record time of 1:37.47. The old mark (1:37.39.64) was set by Jordan in 2019. The overall mark is 1:37.31 swam by Will Freeman of Spain Park in 2013.
Jordan won the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:29.41, while Mathias clocked 4:29.67.
“He’s very good,” Mathias said of Jordan. “He’s in the top 100 in the nation. I had my best times of the season, but they were not my best ever.”
Mathias and Jordan will be teammates at Auburn University.
“It’s going to be good having him as a teammate,” Mathias said. “We kind of talked throughout the meet since both of us are distance swimmers. It’s going to be fun when we get to Auburn.”
Mathias had been the 200- and 500-yard freestyle gold medalist the past two years while competing in Class 1A-5A. Jordan was the 6A-7A winner in both events in 2019.
Mathias said moving up to 6A-7A this fall was challenging. “The competition was definitely different in 6A-7A because you’re going against bigger schools,” he said.
Although he failed to win a gold medal in his senior year, Mathias was thankful to compete during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” he said. “I’m proud of my times, especially because of the situation with COVID. I’m glad we got to swim in the state meet because, at the start of the season, we didn’t know if we’d have a season.”
The only Over the Mountain boys swimmer to win a gold medal was Indian Springs sophomore Mark Underwood, who won the 1A-5A 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:04.34
Underwood finished second in the 1A-5A 200-yard intermediate medley with a time of 2:01.86. Chris Barraza of St John Paul II Catholic won with a time of 1:57.16.
Hoover sophomore Victor Song finished fourth in the 6A-7A 100-yard freestyle with a time of 47.65. Vestavia Hills senior Peter Shields finished fifth in the 6A-7A 100-yard backstroke with a time of 52.99.
The boys team champions were Huntsville in 6A-7A and T.R. Miller of Brewton in 1A-5A.
In the girls meet Friday, Vestavia Hills junior Calyie Basselin won the 6A-7A 1-meter diving competition with a score of 366.10.
Vestavia Hills senior Adeline Carroll finished second in the 6A-7A 200-yard intermediate medley behind Spanish Fort’s Letitia Sim, who won with a time of 1:57.72. Carroll touched out in 2:07.63. Hoover senior Caroline Lawrence was fourth (2:09.60) and Briarwood’s Amelia Steiner sixth (2:11.59).
Lawrence finished second in the 6A-7A 100-yard freestyle with a time of 53.06. Westminster Christian Academy junior Eboni McCarty won in 50.11. Hoover senior Erica Han was fourth in 53.50.
Steiner finished third in the 6A-7A 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:06.29. Carroll was fourth (1:07.15). Han finished third (24.36) in the 6A-7A 50-yard freestyle.
Spain Park sophomore Carson Muir finished second in the 6A-7A 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:09.85. Saint Michael Catholic senior Lucy O’Neill placed first with a time of 5:08.75.
John Carroll Catholic eighth grader Emerson Schneider finished fourth in the 1A-5A 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:34.55. Schneider tied for fifth in the 1A-5A 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2:05.55.
Oak Mountain sophomore Norah Simich finished fifth in the 6A-7A 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:57.35 and sixth in the 100-yard butterfly, clocking 59.09.
The girls team champions were Huntsville in 6A-7A and Bayside Academy in 1A-5A.