Ellen Schafer will sometimes ponder the intensity and length of the swimming workout she is about to approach. Instead of complaining, though, she will leap in the pool and get to work.
When the workout is complete, she said she is often overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment, a feeling difficult to explain.
"It's sort of like a runner's high," explained Lakeside teammate Taylor Capers, another senior.
When the roughly 50 swimmers on Lakeside's team needed motivation to finish a particularly grueling practice this season, they simply looked toward these seniors, coach Andrew Bauer said. For this type of sustained performance, Schafer and Capers were crowned swimmers of the year Tuesday night at the CSRA swimming and diving championships. Davidson's Laurie Montgomery was coach of the year.
Lakeside won both titles at the Augusta Aquatics Center in what its swimmers hope will be the first of two championships in three days, because the Columbia County championship meet is Thursday in the same building.
In this one, the Lakeside boys scored 512 points, 61 more than second-place Greenbrier, and the girls earned 538 points, 10 more than Greenbrier.
Schafer won the 50-yard freestyle and swam on two winning relays, while Capers swam for a winning relay and was second to Evans' Ben Miller in the 200 freestyle.
"Hands down, they have had four years of consistent and exceptional performance," Bauer said. "(They) are both at practice every day, practice 12 months out of the year, and show up to every meet with great team spirit.
"When you've got a senior male and a senior female that both strive for excellence, everyone else will follow. It's nice to have; I hope I can have it again next year."
Schafer is part of a 28-member girls team that is excelling because of its depth and two particularly outstanding performers.
Schafer, who will swim at either Emory University in Atlanta or Washington University in St. Louis, has qualified for the state meet in six of the eight individual events. (Swimmers can only enter two individual events and two relays.)
Sophomore teammate Katherine Huff, who as a freshman won state titles in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke against more experienced swimmers, will be counted on to produce two more state titles in that meet Feb. 10-13.
Her potential, according to Bauer, is merely this: "I can easily see her one day representing the U.S. in the Olympics."
The Panthers girls were ninth in the state a season ago and expect to improve on that performance this year.
"We've got kids that are good at all four strokes," Bauer said. "In football, you have a quarterback; all he does is throw the ball. ... In swimming, on the girls side, I've got someone that can play every position, so to speak, and do it at a state level."
Said Schafer, "Every swimmer on the team is consistent."
The Lakeside boys, third in the state a year ago in a performance aided by current Georgia Tech swimmer Eric Chiu, repeated as area champion. Capers said he gained confidence being that go-to boys swimmer this year, pacing the team to another title.
"I felt like I was that guy this year, and that (has) helped me a lot," he said.
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or email@example.com.
View a gallery of photos from the CSRA swimming and diving championships at http://spotted.augusta.com/.