As an eighth-grader, Kendall Brent attended last season’s Lee County Athletic Conference meet and came away with an overwhelming feeling on what she wanted as a swimmer.
“When I saw my friends, a lot of them win, I thought, ‘I really, really want to be that person.
“I want to be the person who finishes first.”
Less than 13 months later, Brent has accomplished her goals.
The Fort Myers High freshman won the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events in the Region 2A-4 Swimming & Diving Meet on Thursday at the FGCU Aquatic Center, the same place Brent had set her plan in place.
The top winner in each event plus the top 20 times and scores advance to next Thursday’s state meet in Orlando.
Joining Brent as a local double winner was the Green Wave’s Logan Samuelson, who won the same events. He helped his team finish third behind winner Miami Belen Jesuit Prep.
Suncoast Riviera won the girls’ meet. Estero finished fourth and Cape Coral and Fort Myers tied for fifth.
The other Lee County victor was diver Sean O’Connor from Ida Baker who had his first region title after second-place finishes his sophomore and junior seasons.
Last week, Brent sounded a little overwhelmed as she talked about how there so were many more people – i.e., better competition – at districts while regions “would have even more people.”
However, those people also were looking at her.
“I have a lot of confidence,” Brent said. “Oh, my gosh, yes, they were really close (in the 200 freestyle), but I don’t stop. I just do my stuff the whole way through and it pays off.”
Samuelson had two real satisfying victories. In the 200 freestyle, he was seeded No. 2 while he broke the 4-minute, 30-second barrier in the 500 freestyle. His time was 4:29.47.
“I put my head down and just kicked the last 50 yards (of the 200 freestyle,” he said. “I knew I had more energy the first race.
“(The 500 freestyle) I could tell I was going faster than (Thursday) morning because it hurt more.”
What hurt? “Everything,” he said. “But you don’t want to think about it too much or it’ll hurt your focus.”
O’Connor didn’t know he had won until more than 30 minutes after he stuck his last dive, the 2 ½ tuck, one of his favorites.
“Some kids were stressing but I changed and hung out with my coach and was casual about it,” he said. “When they announced the second-place diver, I knew I had won it.
“I thought, ‘Yes.’ I finally got it.”
Consistency keyed his triumph, O’Connor said.