Leighton Rainer of Centre had five first-place finishes, including three individual events (50-freestyle, 50-backstroke, 100-individual medley) and two team relays (the medley and 200-freestyle).
Ainsley Davis earned four gold medals: the 100-freestyle, 50-butterfly, the medley relay and the 200-freestyle relay.
In the boys 8-and-under category, Reece Winstead earned two gold medals: the 25-freestyle and the 25-backstroke.
In the girls 9-10 age group, Camryn Peace captured two golds, both in the team relays. Carly Duryea claimed first in the 50-backstroke and the 50-butterfly in the 15-18 girls age bracket.
Other swimmers with first-place finishes included Nathan Whitt (9-10 boys 50-freestyle), Alexis Smith (9-10 girls medley relay), Savannah Moore (9-10 girls 200-freestyle relay) and Reid Davis (11-12 boys 100-freestyle).
In all, 17 of the team’s 23 swimmers competed in the meet in preparation for district, which is also in Anniston on July 13.
The top three swimmers advance to Opelika for the Alabama State Parks and Recreation State Meet.
“Our swimmers did very well,” co-coach Kurt Duryea said. “They give their all and they are rewarded.”
Duryea said the Otters practice four times a week at the Centre City Pool during the summer months. If they choose, they can go to the Gadsden YMCA during the winter months.
“I have a lot of fun,” 10-year-old Leighton Rainer said. “I want to go to the Olympics someday.”
The swim team began in 1999 with more than 20 swimmers. They competed against each other until they were told about ARPA summer competitions.
In 2008, Ainsley Davis, Dru Rainer, Katie Hill, Carly Duryea, and Leighton Rainer were the first state qualifiers. The team was named Centre Otters because the team was an energetic and entertaining group.
In 2011, Nathan Whitt was the first state competitor. He finished in seventh place in the 8-and-under 25-yard breaststroke. This year, 17 swimmers have qualified for the state meet in Cullman.
“Watching them apply what we teach them and succeed at in a meet is the best part for us,” co-coach Betsy Rainer said.
It’s not all about competing for the Otters. Duryea said the skills the Otters learn throughout their competitions can serve them well in life. He’s grateful for the facility the Otters have to train at in Centre.
“If we can prevent a life from being lost through a safety program, or if we can promote a healthier lifestyle through aquatic activities, it’s something that needs to become an immediate concern to our elected officials,” Duryea said. “Quality recreational facilities are an investment in the health and future of a community.”