All-Area girls swimming
Mon. March 31, 2014 at 5:55 p.m. | By Alex Riley | StarNews Staff Writer | Alex.Riley@StarNewsOnline.com
Hoggard's Caroline Estep is the Player of the Year in girls swimming. (Photo by Jesse Fath)
Caroline Estep came into this season wanting more.
Over her first three years in the Hoggard girls swimming and diving program, Estep had been the one to beat. She was a Mideastern Conference champion many times over. She’d won at regionals and advanced to the Class 4A state meet every year of high school.
So, for her senior swansong, it was all about maintaining excellence in the pool. And setting an example along the way.
“I’m very satisfied with the entire season, with myself and with my team. We did exactly what we wanted to do,” Estep said. “It was a great year. It’s probably my favorite year.”
That statement should carry a lot of weight from someone who earned StarNews All-Area girls swimmer of the year honors for a third time.
Estep has been a model of consistency over her career. She capped it by remaining so.
She was first-team all-conference in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles, as well as a member of the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams. She earned the MEC’s top individual honor and helped the Vikings capture their 14th consecutive conference title.
And, of course, she did well enough at regionals to make states. Estep finished second in the 100 free (52.65 seconds) and fourth in the 50 free (24.31) at regionals. She took seventh in the state championships in the 100 free and won the consolation finals of the 50 free to place 10th.
Striving to be the best is always something that has pushed Estep. But this year, she had an extra piece to motivate her. Before the season started, Hoggard elected two captains. Senior Stephanie Smith was one. Estep was the other.
“The added expectation to be a leader definitely helped her increase her awareness of the total team effort and to be encouraged by it, but to also help lead the charge,” Hoggard coach Tammy Pruden said.
In the past, Estep has been a good teammate, but she hasn’t always been close with everyone on the roster. As a captain, that had to change.
She began getting to know her teammates better, both as athletes and people. She offered up advice when it was solicited and encouragement at all times.
Winning is always a good feeling. Being there for others’ success was a similar feeling.
“Being a captain I got to really know everyone even more, and knowing they’re looking up to me, added a little bit of pressure,” Estep said. “But it helped reach out to all the other swimmers. I felt like I definitely grew a lot more this season.”
Estep’s preparing to swim at the college level next season and is weighing her offers. She hopes to have her decision finalized soon.
She leaves Hoggard a winner, one of its best swimmers ever. She continued to elevate the program’s profile and kept the championships coming in.
More than that, she became a better swimmer, better teammate and better person. There isn’t much more to accomplish than that.
“This is my last year so it’s hard to say good bye and let it all go, because it has been fun with the amount of success we’ve had and being on the team for so long,” Estep said.
“I hope that I’ve left my mark on Hoggard.”
All-Area Girls Swimming
Caroline Estep, senior, Hoggard (Player of Year)
The Mideastern Conference swimmer of the year was the first-team all-conference selection in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle and helped the 200 medley and free relays take first as well. At regionals, she took second in the 100 free and fourth in the 50 free. Her prep career ended with a seventh-place finish at the 4A state championships in the 100 free and a 10th-place finish in the 50 free.
Helen Duffy, sophomore, New Hanover
Duffy cracked the first-team All-MEC list in two different events (200 IM, 100 breaststroke) and was a second-team pick for the 200 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay. In regional action, she took fourth in the 200 IM and sixth in the 100 breast. At state, Duffy finished 10th in 100 breaststroke and 14th in the 200 medley.
Carter-Leigh High, sophomore, Hoggard
High earned four first-team all-MEC conference spots this year in 200 and 500 freestyle as well as the 200 and 400 freestyle relays. High's regional efforts put her at 20th in the 200 free.
Stephanie Smith, senior, Hoggard
Smith was the all-MEC pick for the 100 backstroke and was also on the 200 medley and free relays that were named all-conference. She was also a second-team pick for the MEC 100 free. At regionals, Smith finished 12th in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke. She swam on Hoggard's 200 and 400 free relays at state.
Sydney Westra, sophomore, Ashley
Westra was the other non-Hoggard swimmer to make the MEC first team, earning a spot in the 100 butterfly. She was a second team pick in the 100 breaststroke and a member of Ashley's 400 free relay team.
Ashley: Heather Keck. Hoggard: Abbey Narayan, Meghan Hannum, Clara Bay. New Hanover: Charlotte Jones
Honors: Swimmer of the year–Caroline Estep, Hoggard. Coach of the Year–John Pellizzari, Ashley. Sportmanship–South Brunswick
First Team: 200 medley relay–Hoggard (Stephanie Smith, Sara Moore, Abbey Narayan, Caroline Estep); 200 Freestyle–Carter-Leigh High, Hoggard; 200 IM–Helen Duffy, New Hanover; 50 Free–Caroline Estep, Hoggard; 100 Butterfly–Sydeny Westra, Ashley; 100 Freestyle–Caroline Estep, Hoggard; 500 Freestyle–Carter-Leigh High, Hoggard; 200 Free Relay–Hoggard (Stephanie Smith, Abbey Narayan, Carter-Leigh High, Caroline Estep); 100 Backstroke–Stephanie Smith, Hoggard; 100 Breaststroke–Helen Duffy, New Hanover; 400 Free Relay–Hoggard (Carter-Leigh High, Clara Bay, Maggie McCullough, Meghan Hannum)
Second Team: 200 Medley Relay–New Hanover (Lilly Keys, Helen Duffy, Aleta Jewell, Charlotte Jones); 200 Free–Meghan Hannum, Hoggard; 200 IM–Abbey Narayan, Hoggard; 50 Free–Heather Keck, Ashley; 100 Butterfly–Abbey Narayan, Hoggard; 100 Free–Stephanie Smith, Hoggard; 500 Free–Clara Bay, Hoggard; 200 Free Relay–New Hanover (Ali Collins, Mary Leighton-Mannen, Charlotte Jones, Helen Duffy).; 100 Backstroke–Meghan Hannum, Hoggard; 100 Breaststroke–Sydney Westra, Ashley; 400 Free Relay–Ashley (Heather Keck, Colleen Keck, Meg Taylor, Sydney Westra).