Palmetto’s Samuel Smiddy won a pair of state titles at the FHSAA Class 3A swimming final Friday.
Smiddy, the only Miami-Dade County swimmer to win a gold medal, won the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly, both in personal-best times. After several agenizing defeats at the state meet, Smiddy was finally able to rejoice in victory on the podium.
“I’m happy I was able to get it this year,” he said. “In the fly, I wasn’t expecting it at all. It was really surprising.”
The 100 fly was one of the most competitive events at the meet. The top three finishers all had All-American Consideration times. Leading for much of the race, Smiddy found himself swimming stroke for stroke with St. Thomas Aquinas’ Alex Lilley during the last 10 yards. As they neared the wall, Smiddy needed a final burst of speed to out touch Lilley by six one-hundredths of second. Smiddy swam an All-American Automatic time of :50.29 in the race.
“Before this season, I’ve never been below a :52.00,” he said.
While the individual medley was not as close as the butterfly at the end, Smiddy needed to close a two-second deficit to win. Hampered by a bad start, Smiddy nearly lost his chance at winning the state title. Challenged by St. Thomas Aquinas’ Brandon Goldman, Smiddy swam a :26.31 over the last 50 yards to gain on Goldman. Late in the race, Smiddy took a commanding lead after making the final turn.
“The 200 IM was mien to lose,” he said.
Smiddy also swam the anchor leg of both the 200 free and 400 free relays. Both finished in sixth.
On the girls’ side, Palmetto’s Daniela Johnson won a pair of medals. The senior commitment, placed second in the 100 freestyle and third in the 100 breast, respectively. Johnson had an All-American Consideration time of :51.16, close to her personal best. The 100 free was one of the closest races in the meet. Leading for much of the event, Johnson was narrowly edged at the wall by Newsom’s Maddie Hess.
“It was a rough race,” she said. “At the end, I thought I had her. I wish I could have won, but I am happy with my performance.”
After the race, Johnson said she was thrilled with her results. Spending much of the season looking for the perfect fit for her colligate career, Johnson was not sure of what to expect at the state meet.
“With everything that was going on, I wasn’t expecting to do so well,” Johnson said.
After several recruiting trips, Johnson recently committed to Harvard where she will swim with former Ferguson standout Ana Anaya.
“I’m going to swim for [Harvard],” she said. “Ana and I are going to be teammates.”
Johnson also helped Palmetto win a bronze in the 200 medley relay.
The only other Dade County medal winner at the meet was Reagan’s Isabella Paez. Paez placed third in the 100 fly with an All-American Automatic time of :54.45.
“It was the first time in the two years that I’ve swam this race that I actually felt good over the last 50 [yards],” she said.
Paez, a junior, came within a quarter of second of winning.
“The time was perfect right now. I was expecting to go a :54, but I didn’t think I was going to go so low,” Paez said. “I’m going to keep training.”