RUSSELL SPRINGS — Chappie Couzens got everything he wanted Saturday at the regional swim meet.
It would have been enough for Couzens to qualify for the state meet in his best event, but the Danville senior was on cloud nine after winning his third regional championship in the boys 100-yard breaststroke.
Couzens earned the only victory by an area swimmer in the 3rd Region Championships at the Russell County Schools Natatorium. And while he said he would have been happy with a second-place finish, which would have still given him a spot in the state meet, he’s much happier with the win.
“Part of you is just worried abut getting to state, and then part of you wants to win,” Couzens said. “If I’d looked up there (at the scoreboard) and saw second, I would have been glad I was still going to state either way. But it is one of those things where when you see that you’ve won, you can’t get any better than that — unless you’re looking at times, and that’s not really what we’re worried about here.”
There wasn’t much difference in the first- and second-place times in Couzens’ race. He beat Chase Simmons of Elizabethtown to the wall by just .04 seconds in a race so close that neither he nor his coach was sure whether he had won until they saw the places pop up on the scoreboard.
“I saw (Simmons) out of the corner out of my eye when I touched, and it’s one of those moments, ‘Did I get it?’ and I looked up and saw the ‘1.’ I don’t know how close I was. I didn’t look at his time, I just looked at mine,” Couzens said.
Couzens won in 1 minute, 2.84 seconds.
“It was tight,” Danville co-coach John Anderson said. “From my angle where i saw it, it was, ‘Oh, he got out-touched, and by the time I turned to look at the board, I saw the ‘1’ by his lane and I was like, ‘Yes!’ We were high-fiving, and it was exciting.”
Couzens’ victory came in the final individual event, and he was the only swimmer from Danville or Boyle County who left the meet knowing that he was moving on to the state meet.
He would appear to have a good chance to make state in a second event, the 200 individual medley. He finished a close third in that race with a time that would have easily qualified him last year.
In addition to the first- and second-place finishers from each of the five regions statewide, 22 at-large qualifiers will be determined today from the next-best times statewide.
There is hope for a few other Danville and Boyle swimmers as well, though not many. Times from Friday’s preliminaries placed swimmers from the two schools in the championship heat in only seven of 22 events Saturday.
Couzens won regional championships in the 100 breaststroke in his freshman and junior years — he set a school record in the regional last year at 1:02.31 — and was a close second as a sophomore.
He said he was “close to 3 seconds” off his own best time in that event Saturday, and he hopes to get closer to that mark at the state meet Feb. 21-23 at the University of Louisville.
On this day, winning was enough.
“I don’t want to say that it’s something that I expected of myself to win, but it was something where I wanted it and I knew that I was able to do it,” he said.
Anderson said he thought so, too, though he said he was nervous in the moments before the race.
“I don’t ever get nervous before big races, even when I swam, but right before that race I got kind of light-headed and my heart rate got up,” he said. “I was just so excited for the kid, and he went out there and he had his chance and he proved it. Now he’s hoping to go to state and make a little bigger impact.”
Couzens finished .19 seconds behind Aaron Mitchell of Woodford County in the 200 IM, but he’s hoping to swim in that event at state as well.
“It’s frustrating because I got out-touched by point-one-nine, and I got out-touched by a guy that I train with all the time,” he said. “But I had so much fun in that race, and I loved trying to chase him down, and if I don’t get to swim, then just getting to swim it there was worth it, and it was fun.”
Anderson said he thinks Couzens will make it.
“I’ll be more shocked if he doesn’t make it than if he makes it,” Anderson said.
Couzens is Danville’s only senior, and Anderson said the young swimmers that make up the majority of the program look up to him.
“They all know Chappie and look up to him, and he knows that, and he says nothing but nice things to them. We’re just a really great team, and having a swimmer like Chappie really leading this team, that’s what you want,” Anderson said. “My whole team swam out of their minds today. It all starts with him, and they all followed and swam great.”
Haley Robey of Boyle finished fifth in one event and sixth in two others.
“It was actually a pretty good day,” Robey said. “I’m happy overall with how I finished. I’m not leaving anything undone.”
3rd Region Swimming Championships
At Russell County Schools Natatorium
(Top two individuals qualify for state meet; other at-large state qualifiers TBD)
200 medley relay — 6. Boyle County (Connor Burns, Collin Cummins, Connor Frey, Jack Crawford) 1:58.77.
200 freestyle — 10. Cummins (Boyle County) 2:09.32; 11. Matthew Calvert (Danville) 2:13.20; 13. Drew Dear (Boyle County) 2:13.83.
200 individual medley — 3. Chappie Couzens (Danville) 2:06.21; 9. Joe Webb (Boyle County) 2:36.85; 11. Burns (Boyle County) 2:37.12.
50 freestyle — 15. Crawford (Boyle County) 26.26.
100 freestyle — 9. Crawford (Boyle County) 58.04.
500 freestyle — 9. Dear (Boyle County) 5:55.40; 11. Calvert (Danville) 6:02.75
200 freestyle relay — 15. Boyle County (Michael Larson, Paul Sudd, Webb, Dear) 1:58.86; 16. Danville (Race Pellant, Matt Ballard, Gus Crow, Corey Steber) 1:59.93.
100 breaststroke — 1. Couzens (Danville) 1:02.84; 8. Cummins (Boyle County) 1:13.00.
400 freestyle relay — 8. Boyle County (Burns, Cummins, Frey, Crawford) 3:57.35.
200 medley relay — 6. Boyle County (Haley Robey, Daisy Brosi, Lauren Holderman, Hannah Robertson) 2:08.56; 11. Danville (Morgan Vest, Blaire Welsh, Brooklyn Haydon, Becky Mohr) 2:15.62.
200 individual medley — 9. Welsh (Danville) 2:28.70; 15. Katie Sudd (Boyle County) 2:41.39.
50 freestyle — 6. Robey (Boyle County) 27.05; 11. Robertson (Boyle County) 27.59.
100 butterfly — 15. Holderman (Boyle County) 1:14.30.
100 freestyle — 11. Robertson (Boyle County) 1:02.92.
200 freestyle relay — 5. Boyle County (Sarah Burns, Sudd, Robertson, Robey) 1:52.19.
100 backstroke — 11. Robey (Boyle County) 1:08.80.
400 freestyle relay — 10. Danville (Vest, Mohr, Welsh, Haydon) 4:25.79; 12. Boyle County (Holderman, Katie Greene, Burns, Sudd) 4:28.76.